Central Bank staff belonging to the Unite trade union have passed a motion of no confidence in management in the bank amid a controversy over retention payments for a small number of staff. 

The union has also written to incoming Central Bank Governor Philip Lane seeking the legal advice underpinning the bank's decision to implement retention payments.

The controversy erupted when it emerged that the Central Bank had sanctioned retention of payments totalling €500,000 for 29 key staff deemed vital to certain projects.

However, the union was furious when it emerged last week that further payments had been made as far back as 2011.

Unite Regional Officer Colm Quinlan said that "more than half" of their 600 members had voted, and of those, 92% had voted no confidence.

He described the payments as "secret bonuses", and said they would await a response from the Governor to their request for the legal advice regarding the decision to make the payments before deciding their next move.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank confirmed that the Governor has received a letter from UNITE.

The Bank reiterated its call on UNITE to engage in agreed industrial relations procedures.