The State has further reduced its stake in Bank of Ireland, bringing its shareholding in the bank below 8%.

In an announcement to the stock exchange, Bank of Ireland confirmed that the Minister for Finance's stake in the bank was now 7.97%; down from a previous holding of 8.99%.

That compares to the 13.9% stake the State held in the bank when it began a process of selling down some of its holding in June.

In total, the State put €4.7 billion into Bank of Ireland during the financial crisis, with the initial investment coming in early 2009.

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

The current share sale process was due to conclude in January, however last month Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced that its deadline would be extended to May 2022.

The latest sale of Bank of Ireland shares comes as Mr Donohoe announced plans to sell some of the State's 71.12% shareholding in AIB Group, with a six month sales process starting early next year.

The Minister did not say how much of the AIB holding he plans to sell but, like the Bank of Ireland share sale, it will be subject to a number of conditions.

That includes a minimum sale price on the bank's shares.