Boucher facing his biggest battle today

Critics ignore long hours he has put into restoring faith in bank

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher: It says much about the man’s commitment that he waited for the bank’s  interim results to be published before entering hospital for his operation. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher: It says much about the man’s commitment that he waited for the bank’s interim results to be published before entering hospital for his operation. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 01:00

Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher has dealt with a number of significant challenges since the global financial crisis blew up in 2008, threatening the Dublin-based financial institution’s very existence.

Yet he arguably faces up to his biggest battle today as he enters hospital for an operation to remove some cancerous tissue in his colon and bowel. This diagnosis followed a routine medical check up recently.

Boucher said yesterday he expects to spend about a week in hospital followed by a period of rehabilitation. Thankfully, the prognosis is positive and he hopes to be back at his desk in September.

A lot of slings and arrows have been aimed in Boucher’s direction since he became Bank of Ireland chief executive in 2009. He is the only director from the pre-crash era still in situ and the only one earning in excess of the Government’s €500,000 salary cap. He is something of a lightning rod for taxpayer anger with bankers.

This ignores the long hours he has worked over the past five years and the hard miles he has travelled to regain investor support and turn around the performance of the bank. He invested himself personally in guiding the bank back to profit and repaying all of its State bailout aid, and a little more besides.

It says much about the man’s commitment to his role that he waited for Bank of Ireland’s interim results to be published before entering hospital for his operation. It showed a €700 million-plus turnaround in performance with the bank back in the black to the tune of €327 million.

He joked yesterday: “I’ll be back soon to annoy them [his colleagues] and drive them mad.”

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