The Chief Executive of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) has said the organisation is not against an individual accountability regime within the sector, but he said the balance must be right.

Speaking to the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Maurice Crowley said the organisation intends to work with the Central Bank to introduce the regime. 

Proposed new rules, known as the senior executive accountability regime, will give the Central Bank more powers to make top bankers accountable for failings under their watch.

It follows a Central Bank report into behaviour and culture published last year, on the culture of the State's lenders in the wake of the tracker mortgage crisis.

Mr Crowley said banks took the report seriously and he said they are actively engaged in working through the actions identified with the Central Bank with a view to completing them on a timely basis. 

He said the Banking Culture Board, which aims to foster a customer-focused culture within the sector, would be completely independent of the industry.

Mr Crowley said the board had extensive consultations with all forms of stake holders across the economy and he said they would publish the outcomes later this year. 

He said there was work to be done by every individual bank to show how they were "changing their stripes" in the context of a consumer focused culture.

Mr Crowley denied that it was the bank’s sole objective to maximise return for shareholders because he said society and legislators would not allow this anymore.

He told the committee there was a momentum behind the senior executive accountability regime and an outline was expected in the first quarter of next year.

Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said bankers had cost the Irish people billions of euro, and hundreds of people had emigrated. She said individual accountability must be implemented as a key reform within the banking sector.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath told the committee that tens of thousands of customers were wronged, and he said the banking crisis was a very costly experience for many people he represents.