Members of the Government, led by the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, have held a series of meetings with the chief executives of the country's three largest banks over the past two days.

The meetings with the bosses of Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank focused on issues such as the Credit Guarantee Scheme, payment breaks and the use of electronic payments.

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, also attended the meetings.

In a statement, the Department of Business said the gatherings were used as a valuable opportunity to impress on the banks the critical role that they must continue to play in supporting a rapid recovery for Irish businesses and the economy.

The banks gave an assurance that loans under the new €2 billion Credit Guarantee Scheme would carry interest rates well below market rates.

The lenders also told the ministers that work is ongoing at the highest levels to ensure a smooth return to regular repayments for customers availing of loan repayment breaks

A range of option are to be offered to those who have difficulties returning to regular repayments at the end of their break. 

However, there was no mention in the statement about whether the controversy around the ongoing charging of interest by the banks during the period that payment breaks are being availed of was addressed during the talks.

Last week Taoiseach Micheál Martin said banks should not profit from the application of interest on mortgage holders who took a payment break during the Covid-19 crisis, after regulators clarified that the banks did not have to charge such interest in order to prevent the loans becoming classified as non-performing.

The department also said the Tánaiste asked whether the additional volume of electronic and card based payments in recent months creates an opportunity for banks to reduce their charges on these cards to retailers.