I am accompanied by Mr. William Beausang, assistant secretary, and Mr. Kevin Nolan, assistant principal officer. Ms Ann Nolan, assistant secretary, is attending a European teleconference on stress testing and will join us as soon as is possible.
I am pleased to discuss with the committee the documents recently provided for it by the Department on the bank guarantee and the crisis in the financial system. As this is the first public session during which the committee will discuss the documents released to it by the Department on the bank guarantee and the workings of the domestic standing group on financial stability, I will outline the approach taken by the Department to the committee's request for these documents. I note from the committee's press release issued yesterday this is one of the issues it wishes to deal with at this meeting.
In assessing how it should respond to the committee's request for documents the Department had to deal with issues of Cabinet confidentiality, legal privilege, broader confidentiality requirements and the ongoing commercial sensitivity of information, in particular, as it relates to individual institutions. Notwithstanding the fact that we are somewhat constrained by all of these considerations and the usual restriction that civil servants may not comment on policy, we have sought to be of real assistance to the committee. We understand the importance of its role and the public interest in that role, which is to deal with the constitutional obligation of the Dáil with regard to the expenditure of public moneys. The committee asked for a paper on the bank guarantee and we contrived to provide dozens of papers which we regarded as important in order to put the paper on the guarantee in context.
In releasing documents to the committee we took account of the fact that some of the information considered commercially sensitive at the time of its production could no longer be so regarded owing to the passage of time and the amount of information on financial institutions which had benefited from State support already in the public domain. Where it was not possible to release a full document, we endeavoured to release documents in part. I do not think the redactions have caused a significant loss, at least in the general sense of what happened. It may also be the case that, having considered all of these issues of confidentiality and sensitivities, the release of the documents facilitates a broader public discussion.
The report undertaken by Mr. Klaus Regling and Mr. Max Watson and the report compiled by Professor Honohan have drawn attention to a number of significant issues which require further consideration, including bank practices, risk management and governance failings in the covered institutions, the performance of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, the role of fiscal policy and the overall macro-economic management of the economy. We are all aware that these matters are not being ignored by the Oireachtas or public agencies. Mr. Peter Nyberg, former director general for financial services at the Finnish Ministry of Finance, has agreed to lead the commission of investigation into the banking sector, for which the terms of reference have been agreed by the Dáil. In addition, there will be a review of macro-economic policy lessons as set out in the Regling-Watson report which will be carried out by the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service following the passing of motions in both Houses of the Oireachtas.
In addition, the Minister for Finance has announced a review of the Department of Finance to be carried out by an independent review group of experts to evaluate the systems, structures and processes used by the Department regarding the elements of economic management relevant to its role and operation. The review will examine what has happened and the consequences of actions taken or not taken in the Department. The review will help to ensure the Department can be redesigned to give the best achievable policy advice, assess risks and opportunities in the fiscal, economic and financial systems and the overall management of the public service. It will be redesigned to be the Department of Finance the public deserves.
Other more focused inquiries are ongoing, including, for example, a review of auditors and reviews by the ODCE, Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, and the Garda Síochána. The Department will assist all these inquiries as best it can, as well as the committee in its discussions today.