As the Deputy is aware, my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development published a report on local public banking at the beginning of July. The report concluded there was not a compelling case for the State to use Exchequer funding, which I remind the Deputy was approximately €150 million, to establish a new local public banking system.
However, as set out in the report on local public banking, my Department will commission an independent, external evaluation to establish if there is a requirement for local and community banking in Ireland.
As part of our continued engagement with key public banking stakeholders, my Department has consulted with Irish Rural Link and others in the development of the terms of reference which will form the basis of the evaluation the consultants will conduct. I was involved in the tendering process for this yesterday, and believe that the tender process will be concluded by the end of this year, with a view for the evaluation process to begin in early 2019.