Minister for Finance abstains in vote on bank chief’s pay packet
Labour backbencher claims abstention is bad Government policy
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will abstain in the vote on the remuneration package for Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher (pictured)
The Government has rejected a call by Labour backbenchers for Mr Noonan to exercise his vote based on the State’s shareholding against the package for Mr Boucher and other directors of the financial institution.
In a series of questions five Labour TDs urged the Minister to send a “very clear and loud message that these outrageous salaries are not acceptable in a bank that this State and taxpayers had to bail out”.
Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys said “abstention is not policy and it’s not good policy in this case”. Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes insisted however it was a decision of every member of the Government that Mr Noonan abstain. He also said Mr Noonan was voting “in favour of the election and re-election of the bank’s directors”.
The Minister holds a 15 per cent stake in the bank on behalf of the Government. He expects to receive an outline of each bank’s strategy by the end of April to reduce payroll costs by between 6 per cent and 10 per cent. “It was in this context that he decided to abstain on the resolution to consider the report on directors’ remuneration,” Mr Hayes said.
Mr Humphreys said Mr Boucher received a basic salary of €690,000 well above the Government cap of €500,000.
“He also receives other payments including pension contributions to bring his package to over €800,000. He was one of the architects of the lending bubble who directed lending in Bank of Ireland.”
He added: “I urge you to abandon the policy of abstention on this issue and vote No in this case.” The bank had “lapsed back into its old ways” and was using market research “to try and trick people off tracker mortgages to improve their bottom line so they can pay super salaries to their top executives”.
Dublin Mid-West TD Robert Dowd said: “We as a Government have been too soft on the banks for too long and it’s time for the Minister to take a stand for the public when dealing with them.”
Voice of the people
Wicklow TD Anne Ferris said she was looking to the Minister to ensure the voices of the Irish people were heard at the Bank of Ireland agm. She asked why the State had not repossessed the bank’s historically significant College Green premises, “the world’s first purpose-built two-chamber parliament”, as part of the social dividend for the State’s investment in the bank.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD Ann Phelan said the payments to Mr Boucher and other directors showed “the blatant disregard for the current economic situation in this country”.
She urged Mr Noonan to “say no to the bankers and say no to the huge salaries and restore some faith to the Irish people that we will do right by them”.
Kerry North TD Arthur Spring said Mr Boucher joined Bank of Ireland in 2003 and became a director in 2006. Mr Boucher “should have a shot across the bow” and “should be put in his place”.