Banks’ public interest directors to face Dáil grilling

Public interest directors on the boards of bailed-out banks have been summoned to the Oireachtas finance committee.

It will be the first time the Government-appointed gatekeepers will have reported to the State since they took up their positions in 2008.

Ciarán Lynch, chairman of the finance, public expenditure, and reform committee, said they would be quizzed on their roles and responsibilities during three separate sittings this week.

Mr Lynch said: “Among the other issues we will want to address with the public interest directors are: What distinguishes them from the other directors on the banks’ boards; how do they invoke and carry out their roles; what are their responsibilities; how have they reported on their role and to whom do they report; what is their contribution to the banks’ policies, in particular the function they have in setting the rates of pay and the remuneration policy at their particular bank for management and senior executives.”

The decision to haul the directors before the committee comes amid public concern over rising mortgage interest rates, increasing deposit charges, and an unwillingness to lend to businesses.

Mr Lynch said: “We will also be keen to consider what scrutiny they apply to the banks’ lending policies, such as lending to SMEs and assisting struggling mortgage holders.”

Public interest directors were appointed in late 2008 after the banks were guaranteed by the State. The late Brian Lenihan, the former finance minister, said the non-executive directors would promote the public interest as a way of easing pressure on consumers.

Margaret Hayes and Ray MacSharry, the public interest directors of Permanent TSB, will appear before the committee at 3pm on Wednesday.

Tom Considine and Joe Walsh, who sit on the Bank of Ireland board, will attend the committee meeting at 9.30am on Thursday, while Dick Spring, the public interest director at AIB, and Dr Michael Somers, the Government-appointed nominee at AIB, will attend at 12.30pm the same day.

Mr Lynch said: “Our meetings next week provide us with an opportunity to get an overview of the roles, responsibilities, duties, and contribution of the public interest directors on the boards of banks which have been bailed out by the State. We will also be interested in receiving an outline of how the public interest directors have reported on their roles as directors.”


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