Morawiecki: the Irish connection

 

Sir, – I served as ambassador to Poland 2005-2010 and I am pleased that in your Editorial of December 11th you bring to attention the appointment of Mateusz Morawiecki as Polish prime minister.

You point to his banking background, his record in government and his multilingual skills, which reflect education in the US as well as Germany and Switzerland.

Your excellent Berlin Correspondent Derek Scally noted in his reports of December 5th and 8th anticipating and reporting Mr Morawiecki’s elevation that Mr Morawiecki is a former honorary consul of Ireland in Poland and former CEO of the Polish Bank BZWBK formed and owned by AIB until it was forced to sell in 2010, a regrettable decision in the wake of the financial crash demanded by our Department of Finance which was impervious to the importance of this bank for Irish business in Poland and further east.

I got to know Mr Morawiecki in 2005 shortly after my arrival in Poland. He was then a young high flier in AIB’s very successful merged bank, BZWBK, initiated and worked up with difficulty in the post-communist years of the 1990s.

When he subsequently became the new CEO of the bank I nominated him as honorary consul in 2007. He gladly accepted and he was duly appointed by the government in 2008.

In that role he presided over and sponsored the work of the Irish Cultural Foundation, a major asset to Ireland in Poland, based in Poznan and run by by the indefatigable Krzysztof Schramm.

On leaving the post in 2015 to join the new government, Mr Morawiecki suggested a replacement who was duly appointed and continues the role and sponsorship of the Irish Cultural Foundation.

Mr Morawiecki will have Polish interests as his first concern obviously but he will be interested in Ireland and happy to co-operate with us where and when he can. He is a banker and has done a fine job as finance and economy minister but his first degree from the University of Wroclaw is in history and he maintains a keen interest including in Ireland’s and Britain’s history.

He is a serious Catholic, but in personal views he is not illberal. He does maintain fiercely anti-communist opinion: he was active in Solidarity as a boy and his father, a physicist, still living, fought against communism and was imprisoned for it.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has many points on which to get off to a good footing with Mr Morawiecki, but in the Brexit context the one I would suggest is to ask about the brilliant Polish airmen’s contribution to the Battle of Britain in 1940, a battle of which it may fairly be said would not have been won without the contribution of Poles fleeing their own country after the Nazi invasion in 1939, but sadly scarcely recognised then or since by the English. A word, Leo, with Theresa May? – Yours, etc,

DECLAN O’DONOVAN,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.