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Karen O’Leary has been appointed Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) following an open competition for the position earlier this year.

Ms O’Leary joined the Agency in 2010 and has been Director of the NCA’s Public Awareness and Financial Education Division since joining the NCA in 2010. She also served as Programme Manager on the NCA/Competition Authority amalgamation project and set up project structures to move the amalgamation forward.  Prior to joining the NCA, Ms O’Leary played a central role in establishing the successful Consumer Information and Education function in the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland.  She has also worked in a variety of marketing and management roles and is a member of the National Payments Plan Group Steering Committee and the Financial Inclusion Implementation Group. Ms O’Leary also holds a Graduateship in Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

The duration of the contract of the new CEO is for a period of five years. As the Agency and the Competition Authority are set to merge to form a new Consumer Protection and Competition Authority, the CEO will become a member of the merged body once it is statutorily established. 

The draft heads of the Consumer and Competition Bill, as agreed by Government, foresee the new body as having one Chairperson and between two and six members, in a similar structure to the current Competition Authority and the new body will have no board. The new organisation will have a dual mandate to protect consumers and enforce competition law. Both organisations continue to operate and perform their statutory functions until the merger is given effect.

Upon her appointment, Karen O’Leary, stated her intention to “build on the achievements of the NCA and most importantly, to continue to identify breaches of consumer law and take enforcement action. I look forward to working with the Competition Authority to bring together our collective strengths, expertise and experience to create an organisation that will work to protect the needs of consumers in Ireland into the future.”