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O'Connell stays at Central Bank

THE Government has decided to extend the term of office of the current Governor of the Central Bank, Maurice O'Connell. In an unprecedented move it is

THE Government has decided to extend the term of office of the current Governor of the Central Bank, Maurice O'Connell. In an unprecedented move it is understood that Mr O'Connell, who is due to retire in April, will accept the surprise offer to stay in his present post for another year.

Speculation about Mr O'Connell's successor had been growing in recent months. Among the names being mentioned were TCD Economics Professor Dermot McAleese, Department of Finance officials Noel O'Gorman and Tom Considine, or even Dr Michael Somers, chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency. Traditionally the post has been given to the Secretary of the Department of Finance. Mr O'Connell who was Second Secretary was the exception.

Banking sources say that the Government's request to Mr O'Connell to stay on is based on his unique knowledge of the euro and Ireland's entry to the single currency. Department of Finance officials are believed to be anxious that the present governor should oversee the introduction of euro notes and coins in January 2002.

Mr O'Connell, a career civil servant in the Department of Finance, was one of the principal defenders of the Irish pound during the devaluation crisis in 1992/93 when current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was Minister for Finance.

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