Monday 22 January 2018

Axed consumer watchdog quango hands €137,000 deal to new chief

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

ONE-time Central Banker Karen O'Leary has been appointed to head up the National Consumer Agency (NCA) for the next five years, even though the agency is set to be merged.

The NCA – the state body charged with protecting the interests of consumers – is due to link up with the Competition Authority to create a new super-quango.

Ms O'Leary is getting an annual salary of €137,554, which is almost €40,000 less than her predecessor's. This is to reflect the fact that the agency will no longer be a standalone body.

She succeeds Ann Fitzgerald.

Ms O'Leary has been director of the agency's public awareness and financial education division since 2010.

But the NCA is due to merge with the Competition Authority later this year. Ms O'Leary will become one of up to six "members" of the new merged body.

There will be no board of directors of the new consumer and competition super-quango.

The combining of the NCA and the Competition Authority was recommended almost four years ago by economist Colm McCarthy in the 'An Bord Snip' report.

The draft heads of the Consumer and Competition Bill have been agreed by Government, but the bill setting up the new body has yet to be published.

Before joining the consumer body, Ms O'Leary played a key role in setting up the consumer information and education function in the Central Bank.

She has over 20 years' experience working in a variety of marketing and management roles with over 10 years' working on consumer issues.

She is a member of the National Payments Plan Group Steering Committee and the Financial Inclusion Implementation Group.


Chairman of the NCA Stephen Costello said the appointment was on foot of an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service and was a unanimous decision by the NCA board.

"Karen has demonstrated that she has the required energy, leadership qualities and commitment to excellence to meet the challenges that lie ahead and champion the consumer cause as a new organisation is established, following the NCA's amalgamation with the Competition Authority," Mr Costello said.

Irish Independent

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