Saturday 25 February 2017

Cardiff being moved over links with past policies

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

KEVIN Cardiff is being moved out of the Department of Finance to a top EU post due to his links to decisions made under the previous government, the Irish Independent has learned.

Despite official denials of the decision being connected with his senior role through the economic crisis, several government insiders say his nomination to the European Court of Auditors is to allow a fresh start in the department.

Suggestions of a personality clash between Mr Cardiff -- the secretary general at the department -- and Finance Minister Michael Noonan are being dismissed as possible reasons behind the controversial nomination.

However, Mr Noonan's decision to bring in a banking expert from outside the department when he took over is seen as a clear early sign of his thinking.

Just weeks after the Coalition took office, John Moran was moved from the Central Bank, where he served as head of wholesale banking supervision, to the Department of Finance to become head of bank restructuring.

"Noonan can get on with everybody. He wouldn't not get on with you. He'd just move in people around you," a minister told the Irish Independent.

Mr Cardiff was second in command in the department from 2006 to 2010, before taking over the reins early last year.

Government insiders say Mr Cardiff is too associated with the past and the Coalition wants to make changes from the old regime.

"I don't think Kevin Cardiff and Michael Noonan ever had bad relations. I think they get on fine. It's history and there is a need to present a new face and new leadership," a government source said.

Nonetheless, Mr Noonan is known to have had a heated exchange with Mr Cardiff before last year's Budget as he was not happy with the information the department was providing to him as opposition finance spokesman.

The Finance Minister also gave senior civil servants, including Mr Cardiff, a robust grilling during briefings after the General Election when the Fine Gael-Labour coalition was being formed.

Vetted

Mr Cardiff will appear before a European Parliament committee in 10 days' time to be vetted for taking up the Court of Auditors position.

His departure simply allows a fresh start, another government source said.

The view that Mr Cardiff is associated with past decisions is shared on the backbenches.

Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey said it would not be "appropriate" for Mr Cardiff to remain in the Department of Finance, but he did not question his qualifications for either post.

"I wouldn't be happy with Kevin Cardiff staying where he was. It would be better to have a new broom -- not somebody who is looking over his shoulder at decisions made over the past number of years," he said.

Mr Twomey worked closely with Mr Noonan as a member of the Fine Gael economic team in the run-up to the General Election. He said he was merely expressing "my opinion" on Mr Cardiff and was not representing Mr Noonan's views.

DOES CARDIFF DESERVE THIS? PAGE 25

Irish Independent

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