Bank of Ireland, College Green, DublinGoogle Images

The Irish taxpayer will be forced to pay millions more to the bankers who brought the country down if the government tries to force them out of work.

Senior bank executives at Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks can expect payments similar to the $4million awarded to Colm Doherty if they are sacked.

The Irish people are still coming to terms with the grotesque $4million paid to Doherty when he was removed from office as managing director of AIB last November – just a year after taking the job.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said the government is powerless to get back any of the money already paid to Doherty even though he was on the board of the bank when it was involved in reckless lending.

Doherty, an AIB board member since 2003, has since issued a statement saying that he only received what he was entitled to under the terms of his contract.

And the government has been warned by top legal experts that senior and highly paid bank executives have watertight contracts that will give them huge severance payments and pension lump sums if they are sacked in response to the banking crisis.

The warning came as the Financial Regular promised to: “Use new powers to sack those found to have “contributed” to their institutions getting a bailout by taxpayer.”

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already admitted there may be more senior bank executives entitled to the sort of severance package picked up by Doherty before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Doherty has defended himself and insisted his huge pay-off was strictly in accordance with his salary.

In a statement, he said: “The terms of my employment contract as group managing director of AIB, were negotiated with the full knowledge and approval of the Department of Finance before I took up the position.

“The severance and pension payments I received upon the termination of my employment were strictly in accordance with the terms of that contract.”