Emails out of favour at Central Bank

About a month ago, the Central Bank came under the umbrella of the Freedom of Information Act, opening up the correspondence of deputy governor Roux to external scrutiny

Cyril Roux: external scrutiny. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Cyril Roux: external scrutiny. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Judging by Cyril Roux’s evidence to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry on Wednesday, staff at the Central Bank will be making more use of the old-fashioned telephone rather than email as their chosen means of communication.

About a month ago, the Central Bank came under the umbrella of the Freedom of Information Act, opening up the correspondence of deputy governor Roux to external scrutiny. This is causing him some angst, as evidenced by his reply to a question from Fine Gael deputy John Paul Phelan.

“So it’s very good, you know, [that] people can look at every single of my credit card receipts and I have no objection to that. But we do have requests to see all the emails that are exchanged internally and I find this really problematic,” he told the committee.

Roux acknowledged that there are exemptions under the Act, but this involves trawling through emails to see whether they are commercially sensitive. “But the fact [is] that any time I write an email or someone writes an email to me they have to think whether . . . it has the potential of being published.

“And I’m not talking about emails that I wrote long ago; we have requests for e-mails that I wrote . . . you know, yesterday . . . and it’s very detrimental to the way we function. So we are writing less and it is very problematic.”

The Frenchman returned to the theme later in his evidence, demonstrating a sense of humour when asked by Senator Susan O’Keeffe if he’d ever met the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan.

“I’ve not met the Minister for Finance but I’ve met him in the plane. We were in the same plane to go to [Latvian capital] Riga, but the Department of Finance we meet every month and, as you’ve said, we exchange letters and we speak on the phone and I think we’ll be speaking more on the phone and writing less in the future.”

Judging by documents released to The Irish Times this week by the Department of Finance, Roux likes to keep his emails short and sweet. On March 12th, Neil Whoriskey, secretary of the Central Bank, circulated an email to board members to the effect that economist Alan Ahearne had been re-appointed for another five-year term.

“I am sure you join me in congratulating Alan and look forward to continuing to work with him,” Whoriskey said.

“Indeed, heartfelt congratulations!” was Roux’s touching reply.