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CPA Ireland Urges Haste Over 'Accountant' Recognition

by Jason Gorringe,, London

17 August 2006

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA) announced on Tuesday that in the interests of consumers, the Government must move more quickly on giving legal protection to the term 'Accountant'.

Ireland's Minister for Trade and Commerce, Michael Ahern, last week confirmed that the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) had reported to him on the results of its deliberations regarding the issue of affording recognition for the term 'accountant', which he had referred to it for examination.

“The underlying difficulty,” the Minister explained, “and the reason for asking IAASA to look at this question, lies in the absence of a legal or uniformly accepted definition of the term “accountant”. This, allied to usages such as, for example, “turf accountant” creates an inevitable looseness such as to allow persons to style themselves as “accountants” who do not, perhaps, have any underpinning qualifications, with obvious implications for the general public”.

Minister Ahern went on to clarify that he had given the go-ahead for IAASA to proceed to the next stage of the exercise, through further engagement with interested parties on both sides of the debate, so as to elicit a set of reasonable, equitable, workable and balanced proposals which it can then consider.

Padraig O Feinneadha, President of the CPA stated this week that:

“We welcome that Minister Michael Ahern has agreed with IAASA that there is merit in giving recognition to the term “Accountant” but we would urge expediency in establishing a timeline as to when such recognition might be put in place. We have been lobbying for this change for close to three years now, and there are genuine concerns that while the wheels of legislative change continue to move slowly, consumers will remain at risk."

“There are a number of individuals and firms at present offering services to the unsuspecting public and calling themselves accountants, even though they do not hold any accountancy qualifications and are not subject to regulation. Must we wait for someone to lose their life savings because of bad advice received from an unregulated individual claiming to be an accountant before we see action?"

He continued:

“We strongly believe that there must be no more delaying on this very serious issue. IAASA must complete the next phase of its deliberations thoroughly but quickly and we need a commitment from Government that they will give protection to the use of the term accountant before the next election."

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