Irish Life & Permanent chief executive David Went has made a strong defence of the banking sector in Ireland.
Speaking tonight to the Institute of Bankers in Dublin, Mr Went said that the banking sector has been the key to the performance of the wider economy in Ireland in recent years.
He cited the sector’s role in providing credit and capital to individuals and companies across the economy and the fact that the sector employs 38,000 people and accounts for 4.6% of GDP (2002) as examples of the importance of the sector to overall economic performance.
However, Mr Went acknowledged that the sector had failed to get its message across.
“With some of the criticisms I hear and read, I wonder whether they’re talking about the unstable banking industry of some third world country or the banking industry at the heart of Europe’s outstanding economy," he said.
Mr Went also stated that he was increasingly concerned at the level of criticism being made about the banking sector in Ireland.
He said: “My concern is that after a period of pretty relentless criticism, we’re coming closer to a tipping point where the cumulative effect could begin to influence the attitude of international institutions towards the sector.”
Mr Went said that international investors were increasingly asking questions about the overall level of support for the banking industry in Ireland and they were very attuned to media – and increasingly political – criticism of the sector.