As the Anglo Irish Bank balance sheet drifts towards insolvency, Bank of Ireland and AIB can at least dream of rights issues, resumed dividend payments and – whisper it – a resumption of bonuses for senior executives.

If a rights issue takes place in the autumn at Bank of Ireland, a large chunk of the government's investment will be paid off and government control could fall to as low as 7%, Davy estimated on Friday.

On one level this is a good sign. Nobody, apart from the Labour Party,  wants wholesale nationalisation of the banks, and financial institutions remain the best way of funnelling out credit to the real economy despite their appalling lending decisions of recent years.

If Richie Boucher at Bank of Ireland becomes the first Irish bank executive to reduce government control below 10%, that would suggest the recovery efforts aimed at restoring Irish banking, which began in September, are working.

But at what cost? Amid all the talk of fresh profits post-Nama, what has happened has simply been a massive transfer of risk from bank to taxpayer. This was evident even a few weeks after the government guarantee scheme was agreed, when credit insurance rates for Irish banks came tumbling down, while those for the government surged into red alert territory.

As Bank of Ireland, and to a lesser degree AIB, comprehend possibly remaining independent (thanks to a "flexible" approach from government on the discount on the Nama loans) the taxpayer and bank staff may be wondering what's in it for them.

Well, for staff it doesn't look good. For example, Bank of Ireland will be able to avoid taking more government capital only if it slashes its cost base, and that must be bad news for its 15,487 workers.

For the taxpayer, things are slightly more complicated. Yes the 8% return on the government's preference shares is welcome, but the crippling deterioration in Ireland's creditworthiness, while hard to quantify, must have a huge cost. It's also worth remembering that as Bank of Ireland tries to escape the government's clutches, it will need to drive profit margin growth and that growth is going to come from customers, known in another guise as the taxpayer.

The banks will simply have to improve their net interest margins and that means paying out less on deposits and getting more on loans. But nobody has told ISME yet.

At least the taxpayer will see general economic recovery via the flow of credit? Well, not for some time.

"We do not envisage any credit growth in Ireland over the next three years," Davy bluntly predicted last week. So no great escape for the rest of Irish business I'm afraid.