The Central Bank is proposing to establish a confidential "whistleblowers desk" to report breaches of financial rules and regulations.

The bank is publishing a consultation paper on the handling of protected disclosures as introduced under the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013.

The Central Bank said the desk will serve as the main point of contact for whistleblowers wishing to make a disclosure.

It said that such a desk is seen as the "most efficient and effective use of resources to adequately address the requirements of the act and provide a robust method of managing protected disclosures". 

"The purpose of the consultation is to seek views in relation to the arrangements and policies the Central Bank intends to put in place in response to the legislation. The new arrangements take into account the experience of other regulators in Ireland and the experience of financial regulators in other countries who have been consulted," the Central Bank said in statement.

While the Central Bank said it will accept anonymous disclosures, it said it would encourage any person making a report to provide their name and contact details. It proposes that all telephone calls on the dedicated whistleblower telephone line will be recorded.

The Central Bank said it welcomed comments and views from all interested parties. The closing date for submissions on the consultation paper is June 19. 

Meanwhile, new figures from the Central Bank toda show that total external assets of banks resident in Ireland stood at €369 billion at the end of the fourth quarter, down about 18% since the same time in 2012. The bank said that these assets have been decreasing since the start of the financial crisis as banks sought to reduce their balance sheets.

The fall in the number of banks currently resident here has also contributed to the fall, it added. 

Domestic banks accounted for €115.2m of total external assets.

Today's figures also reveal that total external liabilities of resident banks at the end of last year fell by 15% to €354.8 billion from the previous year. Domestic banks accounted for €105.3 billion of these liabilities. 

Banking offices resident in Ireland reported a total operating income of €2.9 billion during the last three months of 2013, up almost 5% on the same time in 2012. 

The Central Bank said that since the fourth quarter of 2012, interest income has fallen by 18% while account fees and charges have increased by over 17% - although from a very low base - to €114m. Domestic banks account for 95% of account fees and charges.