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Bank chief Honohan to retire early

Published 01/05/2015

Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Patrick Honohan is to retire early
Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Patrick Honohan is to retire early

Ireland's financial watchdog is to step down from his role early, it has been confirmed.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the retirement of Patrick Honohan was the end of an era.

The 65-year-old straight-talking Mr Honohan is to step down late this year, after overseeing six years of the most tumultuous affairs in the state's economic and financial history and famously revealing in 2010 that the country's banks needed bailouts of billions - despite government denials.

Mr Noonan said: " His clear thinking, leadership and wise counsel helped to steer the country through some of our most difficult times and he has also guided the reform of the Central Bank following the financial crisis.

"He has left an enduring legacy in his contribution to the stability of the country, which is now beginning to strengthen and grow."

Mr Honohan was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland in 2009, one year after the banks were guaranteed to the tune of 440 billion euro (£324 billion) and a year before Ireland ended up with an 85 billion euro (£62 billion) international bailout.

He will depart towards the end of the year giving the Government six months to find a replacement.

Mr Honohan will be remembered for phoning the country's top morning radio programme in late 2010 to tell the nation that Irish banks needed a multi-billion bailout while the government was still publicly in denial.

That taxpayer funded rescue was 64 billion euro (£47 billion) with the outgoing governor recently telling the state inquiry into the unprecedented crisis that the final bill will be about 40 billion euro (£29 billion).

Mr Honohan confirmed his departure early from his seven year term as the Central Bank published its annual report for 2014 in which it revealed 1.7 billion euro (£1.3 billion) of profits being paid to the state.

Mr Honohan said there was no dispute between his office and the government that sparked his decision - and said it was as much to do with him heading into retirement age.

"It's a new chapter in the management of the banks, so it's a good time to handover to somebody else who will take that back on and go with it," he said.

The outgoing governor said Ireland was now moving out of crisis management over its banks and economy.

"We are very much now into a period of repair and consolidation and good husbandry - and that's a different type of activity, so it's a change of gear," he added.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny added his tribute to Mr Honohan's work over the last six years.

"I would like to pay tribute to Patrick Honohan and acknowledge his exemplary public service to his country in the role of Central Bank Governor during a time of unprecedented economic turmoil," he said.

"Throughout his tenure he faced many challenges and always acted in the best interests of the public.

"Crucially, he oversaw radical reform of the Central Bank and the regulatory system, and has played a key role in rebuilding stability in Ireland's financial services sector, which has underpinned our wider economic recovery. I would like to wish Patrick, and his family, well in his retirement."

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