Consumers were not protected by regulatory structures, according to the Financial Services Consumer Consultative Panel. In its annual report for 2009, it says that while good work was done in areas like providing information, the regulator utterly failed to protect the consumer. The panel is being disbanded.

For the new Central Bank of Ireland Commission, the panel recommends introducing product authorisation for individual financial products, reform of debt collection laws and a clear demarcation of the roles of the new Commission, the Department of Finance and the National Consumer Agency.

The chair of the consumer panel, Raymond O'Rourke, told RTE radio some products which came on to the market in previous years - such as 100% mortgages - were not in consumers' interests.

But he said the big failure was in prudential oversight, and the lack of willingness to enforce sanctions against financial institutions.

Asked about the proposed new regulatory framework, Mr O'Rourke said the panel was originally concerned that the consumer would be forgotten. But he said there would be a consumer section within the new regulator, while there would also be an advisory group on consumer affairs within the new structure.

Mr O'Rourke said the panel was in favour of more staff for the regulator, while it also backed a bigger levy on banks to fund the regulatory system.