Tag Archives | IFSRA Consumer Panel

Fianna Fail & Consumer Protection – “more image than reality”

In recent days, the chairman of the Consumers Association of Ireland, James Doorley, has been critical of the proposal by the Department of Finance to scrap the Consumer Consultative Panel at the Financial Regulator once it’s merged back into the Central Bank.

Mr. Doorley believes that scrapping this committee appointed by the Minister for Finance would have the effect of preventing “meaningful input into the system of financial regulation”. According to Mr. Doorley:

those who pay should have a say and that the consumer voice should be at the heart of our new system of financial regulation, as it is consumers who are largely bearing the brunt of the financial crisis.

Mr. Doorley is speaking about a talking shop that didn’t meet at all during some of the most devastating months of this financial crisis at the end of 2008. As first reported here on ValueIreland.com, the panel only met once between July 2008 and March 2009.

There was an interesting exchange in the Dail earlier this week in reference to the abolition of this talking shop. Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fail TD for Meath East (one of the local TDs for Mr. Doorley as it happens) made this appeal to the Minister for Finance:

Last night, the Minister for Finance stated that he is consulting the various representative associations and interest groups. I would be keen for him to consult the Consumers Association of Ireland on this legislation and, if possible, to retain the Central Bank’s consumer panel in some form. It is included in the legislation in a different form, but perhaps it should be retained in a bid to keep the public’s confidence. The public is confident that we are looking after the consumer and doing the right thing.

However, more telling of the attitude of Fianna Fail to regulation and consumer protection in general, in response to a retort to James Bannon TD, Deputy Byrne went on to say:

However, keeping the panel would be more image than reality, since the reality is evident in terms of the regulator’s actions.

And there we have it. It’s more important to be seen to do something rather than actually doing anything at all – as I’ve said many times here before, the modus operandi of the current Fianna Fail government.

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IFSRA Consumer Panel – we don’t have one at the moment!

Not sure how much of a big deal this is given my low regard for the Financial Regulator, but did you know that the Financial Regulator Consumer Panel hasn’t sat since the end of September?

So throughout the Irish and global financial crisis that we’re experiencing at the moment, and the massive decision being taken by the government in the form of the bank bailout, it appears that the Financial Regulator isn’t consulting with consumers at all – ignoring them in effect.

According to the IFSRA website, this is what the Consumer Panel is for, and what it’s not doing at the moment:

  • monitoring the performance by the Financial Regulator of its functions and responsibilities under this Act
  • providing the Financial Regulator with comments with respect to the performance of its functions and responsibilities
  • providing the Financial Regulator with comments and suggestions with respect to the performance of the financial services industry
  • when requested to comment on policy and regulatory documents issued, or to be issued, by the Financial Regulator

As it happens, we didn’t have a Financial Services Ombudsman Council sitting for a period during that time as well – from the middle to the end of October.

As of today, we still don’t have a Financial Regulator Consumer Panel in place yet, so consumers can still go whistle as far as at least one of our Regulators is concerned.

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