MEP Brian Hayes leaving politics 'for family and professional reasons'

MEP Brian Hayes leaving politics 'for family and professional reasons'

MEP Brian Hayes is to leave politics after 25 years for family reasons and take on the role of a banking lobbyist.

The former minister, TD and senator made the surprise announcement but denied there was any conflict of interest in working for the banks after previously being a junior finance minister.

Mr Hayes also did not disagree with the suggestion bankers pay should be increased beyond the current €500,000 cap in place.

His exit as a Fine Gael MEP now throws open the door on which party candidate might run to attempt to fill his Dublin European Parliament seat.

Dublin-based party senators Neale Richmond and Catherine Noone are two names party figures linked with replacing the MEP when the European elections take place next May.

“I'm looking forward to the next chapter of my life,” said Mr Hayes, adding that he had informed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that he would not seek to retain his seat in May.

Mr Hayes added that after 25 years fighting eight different elections at local and national level, it was time to go.

“For family and professional reasons, right now is a good time to leave the stage.”

He denied there was any conflict of interest that he would be taking up a new role a CEO of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland, after being a junior finance minister between 2011 and 2014.

“I am absolutely clear that there is no conflict of interest."

He claimed the federation was "transparent" and lobbied regulators and governments openly.

He said he had spent quite a bit of time speaking to senior people in the banking sector and they were aware of the need to rebuild trust and confidence in the sector.

“We have a financial services sector in Ireland that has close to 90,000 people working for it. A third of all the jobs are outside the Dublin area, a fifth of all the exports in the country come through financial services.”

But asked by RTE whether the ceiling on bankers pay should be lifted beyond €500,000, the soon-to-be banking lobbyist responded:

“It is too early to give an opinion on that.”

Mr Hayes said he was approached about the job and decided for family reasons to make the move.

The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland declined to reveal, when contacted by the Irish Examiner, how much their new CEO would be paid. Mr Hayes will also get a substantial pension as a former minister and TD.

He said there was more to life than the Leinster House bubble.

He also admitted that the slogan 'keep the recovery going' in the 2016 general election for Fine Gael was probably around five years too early. This follows criticism of the then Fine Gael general election strategy, which he was director of at the time.

Mr Hayes claimed that “centre ground politics” had overall paid the price for the “tail end of the austerity years”.

He added: “My decision brings to an end to my role in active front line politics, something that has been a constant in my life over the last 25 years."

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