Bank of Ireland has reported an underlying pre-tax loss of €569 million for last year, down from almost €1.5 billion in 2012.

The bank said it recorded an operating profit for the year of more than €1 billion before impairment charges on loans of €1.6 billion were taken into account.

Its annual report said the level of defaulted loans has fallen 6% since June 2013.

The State currently holds 14% of Bank of Ireland’s shares following its €4.8 billion bailout during the economic collapse.
Richie Boucher, group chief executive, said the bank's underlying performance improved by almost €1 billion in 2013.

"2013 was a year of further substantial progress for Bank of Ireland," he said.

"Taxpayers' support for and investment in Bank of Ireland has been rewarded and repaid. We are profitable and generating capital in 2014."

Davy stockbrokers said the results were strong, with the bank's finances showing it was making profits before provisions ahead of expectations and also generating capital.

The annual report showed the breakdown of impairment charges for loans with residential mortgages costing the bank €573 million last year.

Property and construction lending cost €583 million.

Mr Boucher said a key priority remains the solution of Irish mortgage arrears and challenges facing small and medium enterprises.

And he said that eight out of ten debt-hit Irish mortgages which have been restructured are now being repaid as required.

The bank also said about €6 billion cash has been returned to the State following the bailout.

"It is right and appropriate that taxpayers have got back their cash investment in Bank of Ireland, with a cash profit achieved and considerable potential upside," Mr Boucher said.

Bank of Ireland has more than 280 branches and 1,400 ATMs and the group employs more than 11,255 staff.