Thu, Apr 30, 2020
Read in 1 minutes
Neasa Hourigan, Finance Spokesperson for the Green Party, has called for the establishment of an independent financial consumer protection agency to protect against predatory financial institutions. The persistent mistreatment of Irish consumers by financial institutions has highlighted the need for a consumer focused regulatory body with regulatory and enforcement powers outside the remit of the Central Bank of Ireland, that would also subsume its current powers.
The Tracker Mortgage Scandal had a devastating effect on over 40,000 mortgage holders, including ninety-nine families who lost their homes, and represented an industry-wide failure that exposed a clear lack of consumer-focused culture in Irish lenders. The fact that affected customers are still coming to light and that banks are refusing to engage, forcing aggrieved parties to take their case before the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman, only adds further to this point. Some banks have even refused to engage with their own staff affected by the scandal.
We need to see the establishment of an independent financial consumer protection agency. The Central Bank is currently tasked with, amongst other responsibilities, regulating nearly 10,000 firms providing financial services, and with such an array of financial regulations to enforce, consumer protection can fall down the list of priorities. A stand-alone agency would better advocate for the interests of consumers, ensure redress and better enforce consequences for financial institutions that act in bad faith towards consumers.