As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is the lead Department in respect of the Programme for Government commitment to thoroughly investigate the Sparkassen model of local public banks that operate within well-defined regions.
The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, with the assistance of officials from my Department, undertook a consultation process, engaging with stakeholders. This consultation was completed at the end of March and it involved meetings with interested parties including Sparkassen, Irish Rural Link and the Public Banking Forum of Ireland, who put forward proposals for local public banking in Ireland.
Officials from both Departments are now working to prepare a report for the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and myself. The report will outline the findings and conclusions of the investigation into the Sparkassen model of local public banking. It is anticipated that it will be completed by the end of the first half of this year. This work will form the basis for an informed policy consideration of local public banking.