Fortnight for Central Bank governor hopefuls to register interest

Search for Philip Lane’s successor under way after move to European Central Bank confirmed

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has given prospective candidates to lead the Central Bank two weeks to register their interest, after European leaders confirmed on Friday that Philip Lane will join the European Central Bank's (ECB) executive board in June.

Prof Lane, who has been the governor of the Irish Central Bank since late 2015, had emerged last month as an unopposed candidate to succeed the ECB's chief economist Peter Praet, whose term ends in May. While Prof Lane's appointment to the board does not automatically give him the chief economist job, he is widely expected to secure this critical role on the board.

The Department of Finance has said that the search for Prof Lane's successor will involve an "extensive national and international" process. Executive search firm Merc Partners has been hired to help the department with its search.

“The Government values diversity and welcomes a broad range of applications,” said the department as it set a deadline of April 5th for expressions of interest in the role.


Potential candidates

Deputy Central Bank governor Sharon Donnery is hotly tipped in political and regulatory circles to become the first woman – and first internal candidate – to head up the Central Bank.

The secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, who went up against Prof Lane for the position in 2015, is also said to be considering putting his name forward again.

Mr Watt's counterpart in the Department of Finance, Derek Moran, is also seen as someone who may put his name forward. Alan Ahearne, a professor of economists at the National University of Ireland, Galway and special adviser to former minister for finance Brian Lenihan between 2009 and 2011, is another potential candidate, according to odds from bookmaker Paddy Power.

The current top Irish official at the ECB, John Fell, deputy director for macroprudential policy and financial stability, has also been suggested as contender.

Prof Lane is alone among the Central Bank's 11 governors since the institution was set up in 1947 to have been appointed through an open competition. His predecessor, Patrick Honohan, also an academic, was the first to be selected from outside the top level of the civil service.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times