Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that the Central Bank's Enforcement Division is only 75% fully staffed.

Mr Noonan made his comments in a reply to a Dáil question from Fianna Fáil's spokesman on finance, Michael McGrath.

Deputy McGrath said that in view of the regulatory breaches that contributed to a very costly banking crisis in the past decade, it is "deeply concerning" that so many positions remain vacant in the Central Bank's Enforcement division. 

"In sectors such as insurance, banking and moneylending, strong regulation must be matched by rigourous enforcement so as to protect consumers and ensure adequate deterrents are in place for errant financial service providers," he added. 

In his written reply to Deputy McGrath, Mr Noonan said the Central Bank had informed him that at the end of April of this year, its Enforcement Division had 53.8 active staff, out of a complement of 71.5. 

"This equates to 75% of their target complement," the Minister stated.

He added that the Central Bank's Enforcement Division is multi-disciplinary and uses a wide range of powers to investigate cases across the financial services sector. 

"The allocation of staff within the division to cases will depend on the requirements for each case. Staff within the division are not allocated exclusively to one particular industry sector, such as insurance," he added.