Bank of Ireland paid three executives over €1m each in 2020

Two of the three pushed above €1m threshold by payments on exit

Bank of Ireland paid three unnamed executives more than €1 million each last year, with two being pushed above the threshold as a result of severance payments and wages in lieu of notice as they left the group.

The third is believed to be the head of the bank’s UK division, Ian McLaughlin, who joined the group in late 2019. His remuneration is understood to have been boosted by one-off relocation costs.

Details of the payments were contained in so-called Pillar 3 documents published on the bank’s website this week that give greater disclosures on a number of issues than traditional annual reports.

While the documents did not identify the individuals who received more than €1 million – topping chief executive Francesca McDonagh’s €961,000 remuneration – a separate report for the group’s UK division said one employee earned more than £899,000 (€1.05 million) last year.


The bank, which is 14 per cent State-owned, must secure approval from the Department of Finance for roles that pay above €500,000. It has enjoyed more flexibility on basic pay than the two State-controlled banks, AIB and Permanent TSB.

Relocating headquarters

Mr McLaughlin joined the UK unit from NatWest Group, then known as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), where he was a senior executive for almost eight years.

Bank of Ireland (UK) is in the process of relocating its headquarters from London to Belfast, having reaffirmed its commitment to the North earlier this month after completing a strategic review. Still, the bank is reducing its branch network in the North from 28 branches to 13.

Sean Crowe was the most senior employee of Bank of Ireland to exit the group last year, stepping down as chief executive of its markets and treasury division. He joined the lender in 1993 as a financial markets trader and went on to hold a number of senior roles in the markets and asset management areas before becoming group treasurer at the height of the financial crisis in November 2008.

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment on individuals but said that “all remuneration is aligned with regulatory requirements”.

Bank of Ireland paid two departing executives more than €1 million each between 2018 and 2019, according to previous annual filings.


Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland chairman Patrick Kennedy argued in the group's annual report, published earlier this month, that the lender should be permitted to "develop a more normalised remuneration approach", having repaid in 2013 its €4.8 billion taxpayer bailout.

Bonuses are subject to a prohibitive 89 per cent tax take across bailed-out banks.

Ms McDonagh defended the bank's campaign to ease bonus restrictions before the Oireachtas finance committee on Tuesday.

“I appreciate that, given where the economy is now, to talk about Irish bankers’ bonuses is highly contentious,” said Ms McDonagh. “But if I just step back and think about the future of the recovery of this economy, having Irish-only banks being restricted in a way that other banks in Ireland are not is anti-competitive and it actually makes it very difficult to retain and attract key talent, which we need for a profitable and sustainable Irish banking sector.”

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times