Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (162)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

162. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Finance the dates of the bank holidays which result in the euro payments clearing and settlement system being closed and thus cause delays in credit and debit transfers within the Irish banking system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20837/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The euro settlement and payments systems (TARGET2 and STEP2) are closed on the following dates each year: New Year's Day (1 January); Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labour Day (1 May); Christmas Day (25 December); and St. Stephen's Day (26 December).

All of these dates are also bank holidays in Ireland except for 1 May. The May bank holiday is the first Monday in May.  The Deputy may be aware from my reply to a question from Deputy Michael McGrath on 8 May 2014 that the Central Bank of Ireland worked with the Irish Payments Services Organisation (IPSO) and the banks to minimise any inconvenience to customers arising from the closure of the euro settlement and payment systems on 1 May this year. Business representative bodies and businesses that make large numbers of direct debit and credit transfer payments were contacted and advised that where possible they should bring payments forward to 30 April; in addition, a notice advising consumers about the closure and its consequences was inserted in all of the major national newspapers on Friday 25 April and also placed on the Central Bank of Ireland and IPSO websites.

The full implementation of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) means that at least for the time being this situation will recur on 1 May in each year that the Irish May bank holiday does not coincide with the European one.  The Central Bank of Ireland, IPSO and the Irish banks will make every effort to minimise disruption to customers via an ongoing communications programme aimed at raising awareness of the '1 May payments issue'.