Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath TD has said there is no reason why the Financial Services Ombudsman cannot quickly be given the power he is seeking, to publish the complaints record of individual financial service providers. Deputy McGrath was commenting as the Ombudsman, Mr. Bill Prasifka, confirmed that his office received almost 7,300 complaints in 2011.

Deputy McGrath said, “It is the stated position of the Financial Services Ombudsman that the public interest would be best served by publishing the complaints record of individual financial service providers. The current Ombudsman repeated his call for this power during an interview on Morning Ireland this morning. Given that existing legislation does not permit such information to be published, I published a straightforward bill last December that would extend the necessary powers to the Ombudsman to bring this information into the public domain.

“We need to ensure that the public has access to accurate information about how financial service providers are treating customers and how they behave when their shortcomings are pointed out. It is vital that public confidence in the Irish financial system be restored. It is my view that greater transparency about the performance and behaviour of individual institutions is a basic pre-requisite to achieve this.

“I also believe that publishing the complaints record of institutions would help to weed out remaining bad practices in the financial services industry. I have no doubt that publishing the complaints record of financial service providers will motivate them to clean up their act and improve the service provided to customers.

“In July 2011, the Ombudsman initiated a round of public consultation on the publication of information on the complaints record of financial service providers. The Ombudsman pointed out that the publication of such information would require an amendment to the legislation which established the Ombudsman’s office.

“I am therefore providing the necessary legislative amendment and I would call on the Minster for Finance to put aside politics-as-usual and support this sensible proposal. I have submitted the bill for consideration for the Dáil sitting on Friday, 2nd March and I hope it will be selected for debate.”