Yeah, I know. They try to screw you every way they can.
But for your purposes - if you're wanting accounts in sterling, and you qualify as an expatriate, then why not go for the offshore option?
In many cases you can do most of it online although, as I said, there are some paperwork hoops to jump through. (In our case, a letter from the Embassy here to verify who we are, and where we are living, etc, etc. Also a letter from our previous bank to say where the money came from.
) You'll need to fax all this red tape stuff through to the bank, with your signatures, and whatever else, before they'll open an offshore account for you.
We're currently with AIB, but I have to say that the very poor rate of interest we're getting from them is leading us to look elsewhere. ASAP.
It's a difficult process to open new bank accounts or to change banks. Some of this is "a good thing" to stop money laundering, but a lot of it (in my opinion) is to make it so tedious and difficult that you just can't be bothered and stay with your own bank who is ripping you off.
I don't have the answer. I'm not happy with what we're getting, so I'm not going to recommend anything to you. I can only discuss the process of this hassle.