FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan last night claimed the Government was winning the respect of the public with its tough measures to tackle the banking crisis.
He conceded the "appalling mess" unearthed in the country's banks had shocked the nation and that many of the Government's "decisive and bold" decisions had not always been popular.
But a defiant Mr Lenihan claimed the public's confidence in the system of regulating the banks was now "growing by the day" and the work of NAMA was winning public respect.
The minister's bullish comments came as he outlined further details of the new Central Bank Commission that will replace the separate boards of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator.
The new commission is designed to overhaul the system of financial regulation after criticism of the previous Financial Regulator's failure to prevent the excessive bank lending that inflated the property bubble. Creation of the commission also aims to restore confidence to the financial institutions, nationally and internationally.
"The decisive and bold steps we have taken are not popular; and the honest and full disclosure by the Government and its agencies of the appalling mess we have uncovered within our banks has shocked the nation," Mr Lenihan told the Dail.
"But I do believe that there is recognition among the citizens that the measures we have taken are necessary. And I believe the work of NAMA in cleaning up the banks' balance sheets and forcing them and their borrowers to face up to their losses is winning the respect of the public," he said.
But, Fine Gael's Richard Bruton rejected the minister's claims, saying the public wanted to see an entirely different banking culture put in place.
"The damaged and broken culture is alive and well in the banks," he said, pointing to the €1.5m pension top-up awarded to bank boss Richie Boucher.
The public wanted a change of approach and accountability, Mr Bruton told the Dail.