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Monday 25 September 2017

The man who broke a very old mould

George Garvey

CENTRAL Bank governors traditionally resembled those mythical children in being seen but not heard.

That all changed when Professor Patrick Honohan was drafted in as governor a year ago this month.

Until his appointment, the governorship was a well-paid sinecure for former secretaries-general of the Department of Finance.

Even with the best will in the world, these former Department of Finance apparatchiks were not inclined to criticise their political masters or former colleagues. Not alone had they played a major part in drawing up the Government's policies, a lifetime spent buried in the bowels of the bureaucracy had apparently stunted their critical faculties.

But after the Irish banks effectively went bust in the autumn of 2008 and the Government was forced to unconditionally guarantee the deposits of the Irish-owned banks, it became clear the old ways would have to change.

If the Government was hoping that appointing Prof Honohan would curb his outspokenness, it was quickly disappointed. Instead of 'going native', the new governor has continued to regularly take the Government to task.

Yesterday Prof Honohan was at it again when he said the Government would have to look again at its long-term budget plans. This outspoken outsider seems determined to keep the Government on its toes.

Irish Independent

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