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What: Shares of Irish banks were on fire today, with Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB) and Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE) soaring as much as 25% and 13%, respectively, in intraday trading.

So what: Today's gains follow a big day for both stocks on Friday, after investor confidence was buoyed by Ireland's plan for its banks, which includes making Allied Irish and B of I the country's two main banks. Standard & Poor's cut Ireland's rating a notch, and Irish officials said the banking system will need billions more in capital injections, but relief that the news wasn't even worse has fueled a rally in the banks' shares.

Now what: On the bright side, Ireland's banking plan ensures that Allied Irish and B of I will remain the key players in Ireland's banking system. But the big question is what the future will look like for equity shareholders. With the government continuing to pour money into the banks, it remains to be seen how much shareholders will still own when the dust settles. The consensus view seems to be that B of I has a pretty good chance of remaining at least partly in private hands, while Allied Irish -- which is already 92% owned by the government -- may have a tougher time avoiding full nationalization.

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