I wish to advise the Deputy that the regulation of money lending in this jurisdiction is provided for by way of a number of pieces of statutory legislation.
Legislative provisions relating to the regulation of money lending are provided for in the Consumer Credit Act 1995, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Under the 1995 Act, unlicensed money lending is an offence. Persons who engage in money lending and who do not hold the necessary licence granted by the Central Bank are committing an offence under section 98 of the Act.
The regulation of licensed money lending is a matter primarily for my colleague the Minister for Finance. Under the provisions of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 the Central Bank of Ireland is designated the competent authority in this jurisdiction with regard to licensed money lending activity.
There are also a number of provisions in the criminal law which may be of relevance in particular circumstances, for example, sections 10 and 11 of the Non-fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 and section 17 the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 provide for offences relating to harassment, extortion and demanding money with menaces.
While consideration of any proposed legislative change in relation to the regulation of money lending would primarily be a matter for my colleague Minister Bruton, insofar as my Department has a role in this area and in the context of the investigation of illegal money lending, I have previously indicated to the House that I will consider any proposals which might be made in aid of the investigation of such offences.
My Department has also written to the Garda Commissioner to ascertain if there are any further improvements that could be made to the legislative framework in this area which might be of assistance to An Garda Síochána in the investigation of such offences.
Of course, I would also encourage those who may have information concerning the operation of unlicensed money lenders in particular circumstances to make that information available to An Garda Síochána who will take all measures open to them to enforce the law in this area.