State will not appoint bank chief

THE Government will break with tradition and will not appoint a top Department of Finance mandarin to fill the post of governor of the Irish Central bank when incumbent John Hurley steps down next September.

Mr Hurley, 63, who is also member of the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, will retire from both positions on September 25.

Mr Hurley’s term in office at the Central Bank was due to end in March but he agreed to stay on longer to ensure a steady hand during the financial turmoil that has hit the country hard.

Unusually, the government has not asked President Mary McAleese to appoint a successor. Mr Hurley, a former secretary general at the finance ministry, was appointed Central Bank governor in 2002. He succeeded Maurice O’Connell, who was also top official at the Department of Finance.

Government sources indicated last night that a wide-ranging international search will take place to select the new governor and emphasised that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will not be following with tradition in selecting the new governor from the ranks of the top officials at the Department of Finance.

The Government plans to reform Ireland’s financial regulatory system after a string of banking scandals that damaged the country’s international reputation and led to the departure of the chief executive of the Financial Regulator Patrick Neary. The new structure will merge the Central Bank and Financial Regulator into the Central Bank of Ireland Commission, chaired by the governor of the Central Bank.

When Mr Hurley was appointed in 2002 he was named on the same day as Mr O’Connell announced his retirement.

Mr Hurley, from Mallow, occupied three secretary general positions prior to moving to the Central Bank. He was secretary general, Public Service Management and development, in the Department of Finance, and secretary general, Department of Health.

Mr Hurley was chairman of the Top Level Appointments Committee which makes recommendations to the Government and to ministers on appointments to secretary general and assistant secretary level posts in government departments. It is not known at this stage, what role, if any, he will have in selecting his successor.

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