The State's shareholding in Bank of Ireland has dropped to 8.99%, after it sold another tranche of its shares today.

According to a Stock Exchange statement, the State has reduced its shareholding in the bank from 9.95% to 8.99%.

The Government announced in June that it planned to sell down part of its 13.9% shareholding in Bank of Ireland over the next six months.

The state had not sold any of its Irish bank share holdings since 2017.

In total, the State put €4.7 billion into Bank of Ireland with the initial investment coming in early 2009 as the banking crisis took hold.

That year the then Minister for Finance told the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to inject €3.5 billion into preference shares issued by the bank.

The following year, the State then converted €1.7 billion of this investment into ordinary shares and, in 2011, invested another €200m in equity, again via the National Pension Reserve Fund.

A further €1 billion was invested in July 2011 through Contingent Capital Notes.

Since then Bank of Ireland has returned around €6 billion to the State. This makes it the only Irish bank to have repaid the Irish taxpayer for its support.

By May of last year the State had generated a net positive cash return of at least €1.2 billion from its investment in Bank of Ireland.

Earlier this month, the Minister for Finance said that the gradual sell down of the state's shares in the bank would be extended to May 2022 from an original deadline of January.

If the Government was to maintain its current pace of share sales it could exit Bank of Ireland entirely next year, a move that would make it the first of Ireland's bailed out banks to fully return to private ownership.

Shares in Bank of Ireland moved higher in Dublin trade today.