Noonan's surprise as top official steps down
Finance Minister Michael Noonan's top official is expected to be snapped up for a job in the banking sector on foot of his sudden departure from the Department of Finance.
Even Mr Noonan was taken by surprise by the resignation of John Moran as Secretary General at the Department of Finance.
Mr Moran is leaving the Department of Finance three years after being brought in by Mr Noonan as an adviser and subsequently taking over.
The shock departure is a blow for Mr Noonan as the Government prepares for its first Budget outside the bailout, the banking stress tests, and pursues a bank debt deal.
Colleagues in the department said Mr Moran had picked a good time to leave and would be offered posts elsewhere.
"Now is the time. Ireland's reputation is absolute gold, so it's a good time to go. This is the greatest 'come and get me' ever.
He loves deals and is a banker at heart," a senior source said.
Mr Moran replaced former secretary general Kevin Cardiff, who was in charge through the banking crisis, when he left for a post in the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg.
Mr Moran has tendered his resignation and will step down later this year.
Mr Noonan said it was with "great regret" that he accepted a letter of resignation.
The minister was said to be caught unaware of the decision by Mr Moran to step down, having only been appointed to the position in late 2011.
Mr Moran joined the Department of Finance on secondment from the Central Bank.
Mr Noonan said he "played a leading role in recapitalising the banking sector and restoring the economy at a very difficult time".
Mr Moran was involved in every significant decision taken by Mr Noonan throughout the bailout programme, including those decisions that saw Ireland successfully exiting the programme.
"I valued his counsel during those very difficult times and I wish John every success in the future," the minister said.
Mr Moran's departure is the latest in a series of high-profile resignations by outsiders appointed to top jobs in the public sector.
Fiona Muldoon, who was number three at the Central Bank after joining from a Bermuda-based reinsurance company, is leaving Dame Street this month.
Deputy Governor Matthew Elderfield stood down last year and has since taken a job at Lloyds Bank in the UK.
The Central Bank's chief economist Lars Frisell also left the bank to take up a job at the IMF earlier this year.
The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has also seen a steady flow of senior executives leaving the state agency for lucrative jobs in the private sector while the former civil servants who lead the agency remain.
Prof Patrick Honohan remains head of the Central Bank.