Letter in today’s Irish Times.
There is now no doubt that in the past we got the kind of regulation that our governments and increasingly powerful business lobbyists wanted.
The Government appointed the regulator and, no doubt, outlined the job specifications, which seem to have been roughly: “A regulator is just a civil servant, he never gets high-falutin’ notions and doesn’t get in the way of big business. ”
Despite the appalling consequences of our lack of effective regulation and legislation in the past, John Bruton, the former taoiseach of a Fine Gael-led coalition, in his capacity as chairman of the IFSC, told the European Insurance Forum Conference in May 2013 that we needed to put a rein on financial regulation.
Some banks, he claimed, had handed back their licences because of oppressive regulation, regulation which was risk-averse. ome weeks later an American businessman, interviewed on an RTÉ radio news programme, candidly stated that one of the factors that attracted US investors to Ireland was our “low regulatory hurdles”.
Matthew Elderfield, while acknowledging the greatly improved staffing levels in the regulator’s office, has severely criticised the present government’s failure to implement recommendations he made before his departure from his position as financial regulator.
No doubt, as soon as the Dáil committee of inquiry has completed its work we will be promised effective legislation and a robust regulatory regime. However, powerful forces will be working openly and behind the scenes to dilute or hinder these measures.