‘Meticulous’ nature will serve Moran well in tough role

Jimmy Woulfe and Juno McEnroe profile the new secretary general at the Department of Finance

From an early age, John Moran was imbued with a strong work ethic and sense of enterprise.

The new secretary general of the Department of Finance takes over from Kevin Cardiff, at a time when increasing scrutiny is being placed on top civil servants.

Mr Moran’s father Sean came from Athea in West Limerick, from where one of his cousins Tom Moran set out and built a hotel chain in this country and in Britain which includes the Red Cow Inn.

Sean Moran and his wife, Bridie, who comes from Brosna, Co Kerry, settled on a small 40-acre farm at Redhouse Hill, Patrickswell, outside Limerick City.

To help rear their four young children, Sean started building houses as well as keeping dry stock on the farm.

At a young age, John, the eldest, helped out on the farm after school and during the summer holidays and also spent many days on building sites lifting blocks and mixing cement.

Like John, the other three siblings all became achievers in their chosen fields. Adrian is a paediatrics specialist in the US; Brendan is an accountant with Dell and the youngest, Siobhán, is an accountant with KPMG in the Cayman Islands.

John Moran got his early education at St Paul’s primary school in Dooradoyle where the teaching staff included the late Flor Noonan, wife of Michael Noonan, the finance minister.

He then moved on to Sexton Street CBS for his secondary education.

Noel Earlie, who recently retired as school principal and who taught John Moran during his first three years at CBS, remembered a very bright student.

Mr Earlie recalled: “He was always a happy student and popular. He was very meticulous and very anxious to learn.

“John was a well-balanced fellow, and while he studied hard, he wasn’t a stuffy academic kind of student.

“I remember he had a good sense of humour and he was also very ambitious and well organised. Even at that time he was the kind of student, you would say was going places.”

John Moran sat his Leaving in 1983, and got eight honours, which included straight As in applied maths, psychics, and chemistry.

Mr Earlie said: “It was an outstanding result.”

Away from school, John Moran, when not busy on the farm or on his father’s building sites, liked to play the piano accordion and he took part in Scór music competitions.

But being the eldest in a busy household, most of his spare time from his mid teens was spent working outdoors with his father.

One neighbour said: “John was always busy as a young lad. We all knew he was very bright at school. But he was always a good young lad to help on the farm and his father’s house building business.

“He was popular with the other children in the area and all the family got on well.

“He was a fine role model for the other three who all looked up to him and they were always very close. Sean and Bridie have always been a very close couple and take great joy from the success of their children and helping out now with their grandchildren.”

John Moran, who is single, regularly visits his parents in Patrickswell.

His long CV reads like a travel log of top-class global jobs and workplaces.

On leaving CBS in Limerick, John Moran went on to study law at UCD. On qualifying, he went to New York and took the New York bar exams by the time he was 21. From there, he studied for a masters in Philadelphia.

As his career developed, he worked for law firms such as McCann FitzGerald in Dublin and major banks including Zurich Capital Markets. When with them, Mr Moran was dispatched to New York to sort out problems there which the company had at the time.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty was thrown out of the Dáil last week for claiming that Mr Moran had been in charge of a section of Zurich, which was subsequently investigated by a US watchdog agency over fraud.

Mr Doherty said the group was fined €16.8m by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for aiding and abetting hedge funds in defrauding mutual funds.

The department quickly corrected this, saying he was in the Dublin branch at the time and that the events took place during 1999-2003, before Mr Moran arrived in the New York office.

The entrepreneurial spirit he inherited from his father, got its fulfilment when he opened a juice bar in the hill town of Cordes Sur Ciel in the South of France where he spent some time before returning to Ireland.

He worked in the Central Bank for a year as head of wholesale bank supervision, which oversaw largely IFSC and other retail and non-retail international banks and bank branches in Ireland and new credit institution approvals.

From Nov 2010, he led the development of the bank deleveraging plans under the troika memorandum of understanding, a role which includes the development of a vision for the future banking system in Ireland.

On joining the Department of Finance, he took over responsibility for banking sector reform from the National Treasury Management Agency.

Fellow Limerick man Michael Noonan will now look to Mr Moran to help revive the stricken fortunes of the once all-powerful Department of Finance.

Officials in the department last night described him as a “hands on” individual who was also easy to deal with.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland and former chairman of the Swiss Irish Business Association.

Mr Moran is currently completing a Masters in financial maths at Dublin City University.

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