12 Jun 2019

Ireland pledges 'utter integrity' at central bank amid Makhlouf inquiry

1:23 pm on 12 June 2019

Ireland's Finance Minister says his government does have the ability to annul the appointment of Gabriel Makhlouf to head the country's central bank, but only if there is grave misconduct.

Gabriel Makhlouf, Secretary of the Treasury. Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2017.

Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Ireland's opposition party, the Labour Party, has called for Mr Makhlouf's appointment to be put on hold pending the outcome of the State Services Commission inquiry into the Budget leak.

Treasury claimed it had been deliberately hacked after the National Party revealed information relating to the 2019 Budget two days before it was due to be released.

Ireland Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has refused to comment on the inquiry but says the Irish Central Bank must have utter integrity and utter independence and that's what will happen.

"I'm very conscious here that an inquiry is underway in relation to a political issue in another country, I don't want to comment on that inquiry," Donohoe told Ireland's national broadcaster RTE in his first public remarks about the controversy.

"I'm very conscious that we need to have utter integrity and utter independence in the central bank and that is what will happen."

Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure for Ireland.

Ireland Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: AFP

Mr Makhlouf is due to leave the Treasury later this month and is set to take up the role of Irish Central Bank Governor on 1 September.

That position also gives him a seat on the interest rate setting committee of the European Central Bank.

Asked by reporters if there was a means for the government to walk back on its decision, if it felt it needed to, Donohoe said the legislation that governs the appointment leaves the option open to government to make a change in the case of "very, very grave misconduct."


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs