Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has criticised pay increases received by bank chiefs during the financial crisis, while they were being funded by the taxpayer.

He said this was ridiculous when at the same time public servants were being asked to take pay cuts.

Mr Noonan said the overall position is that taxpayers have invested a lot of money in the banks and the Government wants that investment protected.

However, he said while it wants banks to be profitable to protect that taxpayer investment, they are suffering huge losses because their cost base is too high.

He said he had written to the banks seeking a reduction in payroll costs of between 6% and 10%, and he hopes to hear from the banks on this issue by the end of April.

"It is ridiculous to have nurses and gardaí taking paycuts, and bankers who are losing money all the time, to which the taxpayer has invested so much, are getting pay increases since the financial crisis started - that has to be sorted out," he said.