Business Irish

Sunday 19 January 2020

And what, exactly, do you do?

What's the difference between a "public interest" bank director and a plain old fashioned bank director?

Labour Party TD Ciaran Lynch (pictured) has decided to get to the bottom of the issue. The so-called "public interest" directors were parachuted on to the boards of the main banks four years ago, ostensibly to keep wary eyes on the billions of taxpayers' money being pumped in to rescue them.

The directors are a roll call of the great and the good. They are serious people, people of the world. The group includes three former ministers: Dick Spring at AIB, Joe Walsh at Bank of Ireland and Ray MacSharry at Permanent TSB.

No wallflowers there, but since going into the banks they appear to have become quiet people.

They don't report to the Finance Minister. As directors their legal duty is to the banks they oversee rather than the country and they don't appear to publish any information about, well, anything.

Happily for them, the group has been paid over €1m in directors' fees since the financial crisis, even while their actual role remains a bit of a mystery.

Yesterday members of the finance committee decided to take the bull by the horns.

It is going to ask them.

Irish Independent

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