Boucher: decision to hand back €1.5m pension top-up was mine
BANK of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher has rejected suggestions he handed back his €1.5m pension top-up as a result of political pressure.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, Mr Boucher stressed repeatedly that he made a "personal decision". He poured cold water on any speculation he acceded to requests from either inside or outside the bank.
"I don't mess around. I don't have time to be thinking up stories. I made a personal decision, and it was a personal decision that I made solely by myself," he said.
The timing of Mr Boucher's decision, last Wednesday night, was viewed across the political spectrum as significant -- coming at the end of a day in which Taoiseach Brian Cowen and chairman of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, warned that Mr Boucher's pension top-up could scupper the acceptance of the public service pay deal.
But Mr Boucher made it clear that his decision to forgo the €1.5m pension award was his alone.
"I made a personal decision. . . motivated by the fact that me and my colleagues have worked very hard over the last 12 months and made quite a lot of progress.
"I just got the impression that this thing was starting to overtake and overshadow the things we were trying to do. I made a personal decision on that basis.
"I rang my wife. I told her what I was going to do. I rang my chairman. I said that's what I wanted done. . . I'm quite used to people giving out about me, and I'm quite used to pressure," he added.
Asked if he would now see himself staying on at Bank of Ireland until the age of 60, given his decision to waive his entitlement to retire at 55, Mr Boucher said: "That's a long time away. I've got a job to do at the moment. I'd like to see the bank restored to significant profitability.
"I'd like the bank to be back in the business pages, not on the front pages. That would be the measure of success in my view."