Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has announced a further extension of Bank of Ireland's share trading plan, with the programme now extended to October.

The Minister said the plan has been very successful to date and today's decision will enable the Department of Finance to continue to deliver on the Government's objective of returning the banks to private ownership.

The State's shareholding in Bank of Ireland has now reduced from 13.9% last summer when the trading plan started, to less than 5% today.

The programme was due to conclude in January but was extended to May and today's latest extension means that phase three will now end no later than October 18, 2022.

According to stockbroker Goodbody, the move now facilitates a full exit from the state's investment by October, subject to the shares not being sold below a pre-determined floor price.

Proceeds generated from phase two of the trading plan that recently completed amounted to about €283m. When combined with the first phase, this brings total proceeds to date to €532m.

The average share price achieved in phase two of the trading plan was €5.64, up from an average of €4.96 in phase one.

"The share trading plan, which slowly sells our shares into the market, has enabled us to benefit from the gradual rise in Bank of Ireland’s share price since last summer and I believe it is in our best interest to extend the plan for a further period," Paschal Donohoe said.

In line with the Government's commitment to deliver value for the taxpayer, the Department of Finance said that shares will not be sold below a pre-determined floor price it will keep under review.

The number of shares sold will depend on market conditions, amongst other factors, it added.

Bank of Ireland is the only Irish bank to have repaid the taxpayer for its support, having returned its €4.8 billion-euro bailout in full by 2013, a company spokesman said.

Bank of Ireland's shares were higher in Dublin trade today.