Allow regulator to use red card
Published 08/04/2010 | 05:00
Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield is clearly a plucky character.
Supporting Leeds United one needs to be, but the Englishman's handling of the Quinn Insurance affair shows he has polish to go with the toughness.
While prepared to meet local politicians to discuss their concerns over jobs, Mr Elderfield has so far held the line that regulators must regulate, even if it hurts the commercial interests of someone like Sean Quinn.
While amazingly sure-footed to date, Mr Elderfield is facing a growing political cavalcade trying to force him to cut Quinn Insurance a little regulatory slack.
With outside forces like Enterprise Ireland and Taoiseach Brian Cowen now getting involved, Mr Elderfield could be walking into a political ambush, where he is forced to ease the regulation on Quinn Insurance at the behest of his indirect political masters.
Let's hope nothing as unedifying as that happens. Mr Elderfield has to be allowed to take truly independent decisions here. This is the ultimate test for Ireland's new, more robust system of financial regulation. Any sense that Mr Elderfield has been politically 'got to' would set the recent progress made by him and Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan at nought.
Mr Elderfield made a key point in his first speech in Dublin and it is worth repeating. There is no point in asking a referee to ref a match without a red card in his pocket.
Mr Elderfield could have added that, in the current context, there is no point being a referee if you cannot use that red card from time to time either.