An offer by Bank of Ireland’s directors to resign and seek re-election at their annual meeting in July was today dismissed as a charade.
Hundreds of angry shareholders criticised executives at the bank during a heated meeting in Dublin to approve the Government’s €3.5bn re-capitalisation plan.
Members of the audience chanted “Go! Go! Go!” as Governor Richard Burrows arrived at the podium in the Screen One auditorium of Savoy cinema.
Others blamed senior bankers for the share price collapse and called for the entire board to resign.
“Go now in the name of God,” shouted one man.
Mr Burrows apologised to shareholders for the poor performance of the bank in recent months and added: “We have a collective responsibility to take Bank of Ireland through these difficult times ahead.”
“That means that at our next annual general court in July, which is when these matters are normally and properly addressed, every single one of us directors will be tendering our resignations and going forward for re-election – which is a decision that you will make.”
“So in that sense we are addressing in a very responsible way the comments which are coming from you as stockholders.”
But Senator Shane Ross, a fierce critic of the banking establishment, told the meeting that directors may not necessarily lose their high paying posts because Bank of Ireland and its associated companies represent a large voting bloc.
“This is quite farcical,” he said.
“Anybody familiar with the workings of banks in this country knows this.
“No bank director ever gets defeated at an AGM – never – it never happens,” he said.
“Your friends in all the other banks will come to your rescue anyway. You always vote for each other. Don’t treat us as fools.”
He added: “I beg you to treat shareholders as adults, because they have taken enough pain already. It really has been a terrible, terrible process.”
Earlier, a representative for investor Dermot Desmond joined shareholders at the Extraordinary General Council in criticising the board and management.
“It is difficult to understand the justification for allowing those who have caused the bank to be in this current mess to remain in situ and be trusted with getting it out of the mess,” the representative told the meeting.
New chief executive Richie Boucher, who was appointed last month to succeed Brian Goggin, also apologised to shareholders for the loss of value in the company.
“I will work tirelessly and relentlessly to lead all of my colleagues in Bank of Ireland in the recovery that we can achieve,” he said.
Mr Burrows earlier said of Mr Boucher: “The continuity offered by appointing a new chief executive with a deep knowledge of Bank of Ireland and an ability to hit the ground running, is an advantage in these difficult times.”
The European Commission has already approved the recapitalisation plan for Bank of Ireland.
Mr Burrows said the bank chose the Savoy cinema as a venue because it was difficult to book a hotel big enough to accommodate the large number of shareholders.