Bank of Ireland has been working overtime in the past week to restore its good name with the public. Having swallowed up €3.5bn from the taxpayer as part of its bailout and off-loaded its bad debt to Nama, it knows it has got to get down and dirty with the little people if it's to stand a hope of rehabilitating its busted brand.

But gesture PR has a habit of backfiring. The plan to sell off what's left of its art collection for an estimated €4m and donate the proceeds to charity has met with some resistance – from the artists themselves.

Some of the biggest names in Irish art, as well as the curators of our best modern collections, are disgusted at the bank's firesale of the work, an action which they believe will flood the market with masterpieces, devaluing Irish art everywhere.

Rather than being sold and broken up, their suggestion that the collection be donated to the state should be considered seriously. Some pieces may not be as brilliant as others, but taken as a whole, the Bank of Ireland collection represents a corporate collection with an important place in the art history of this country. It is unique, expertly chosen and built up over decades. Once broken up, its unified value can never be restored.