Maurice O’Connell

by Eileen McElligott

Maurice O’Connell was born at Glin Road, Moyvane in May 1936. His parents, Thomas and Mary (nee McMahon) O’Connell were both Principal Teachers in the local National School. Maurice must have been a very welcome addition to their family of six daughters! Another son, Thomas, followed later but died in infancy, and another daughter, Anna.

Pictured above are the current members of the
EMI (European Monetary Institute) Council.
Maurice O’Connell is in the back row, third from the left.

Following in the footsteps of his father and uncles, Maurice commenced his secondary education in St. Michael’s College, Listowel of which his grandfather, also Maurice O’Connell, was a co-founder and a brilliant Classics master for fifty years.

After a remarkable Intermediate Certificate in which he got first place in Ireland in Greek, he studied in St. Brendan’s Seminary, Killarney where he was also an outstanding student having got an illustrious result in his Leaving Certificate at sixteen years of age. He then went to Maynooth Ecclesiastical College and after three years he commenced a teaching career in Dublin, completed his M.A. in classics and subsequently taught in the International College in St. Gallen before returning to Dublin to embark on a Civil Service career. He was appointed Administrative Officer in the Department of Finance, and later Second Secretary in the same Department before his appointment as Governor of the Central Bank in 1994.

Married to Dubliner Marjorie Treacy, they have four adult children. Their sons Thomas and Martin, like five of Maurice’s nephews, chose the medical profession, while his two daughters Catherine and Marjorie is working on a Master’s degree.

Though he has traveled widely in Europe and beyond in the course of his career and has conferred with Princes and Prime Ministers, his family, his staff and the people of Moyvane – and his Glin Road neighbours in particular – come first.

Asked in a recent newspaper interview where his favourite place was, he simply replied “Kerry!”. Go mba fada buan é.

Background (source

Central Bank Governor Maurice O’Connell
“All our words, thoughts and actions are in euro.”

Maurice O’Connell

1936 Moyvane, County Kerry.

Postgraduate degree in Ancient Classics having studied at University College Dublin and St Patrick’s College in Maynooth.

DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE 1962-1994 Wide-ranging experience within all functions of the Department of Finance during the 32 years he spent there, rising to second secretary in charge of the Finance Division. During this time O’Connell held Ireland’s position on the EU monetary committee between 1988 and 1994.

Additionally, he worked for periods in the Department of Public Service and Department of Economic Planning and Development and thus has wide experience of longer-term planning. He also held the position of director at the European Investment Bank.

CBoI Since 1994 O’Connell was appointed governor of the Central Bank of Ireland in 1994, which is due to run for a seven-year period and thus will be Ireland’s representative on the ECB Governing Council until 2001 (no mandatory retirement age exists for the governor). Unusually, he was not Secretary of State for Finance before becoming Central Bank governor and therefore broke with previous tradition, though this was due to the coincidence of the previous central bank governor and the Department of Finance Secretary of State retiring at the same time. The preparation for EMU will also see his position strengthened within the Central Bank of Ireland, as forthcoming legislation ensures that his status as the bank’s only executive director means that all authority and responsibility for the exercise of EU monetary policy will be vested in him.

O’Connell’s participation in the ECB Governing Council is likely to be as a thinker (says little but knows a lot) rather than as a leader on monetary policy discussions. He will approach monetary policy from a hawkish perspective however, though this reflects the current national consensus in Ireland over the overheated state of the economy rather than any driving theoretical foundations. In the coming years, he should remain dominated by national thinking rather than pan- European concerns. He has stated in the past that EMU is no panacea for European structural difficulties such as unemployment, suggesting a reluctance to pursue interventionist thinking from politicians in ECB monetary affairs. The 1993 IEP devaluation also appears to have left him generally more respectful of the signals that financial markets can provide.

Coming soon!
Some interview clips that Maurice gave to Irish National Television regarding Ireland’s preparation for European Monetary Union (EMU), when the 12 member states of the European Union (EU) will on 1st January 2002, begin to circulate the new Euro currency. These clips will be brought to you as soon as possible.

For a man who has had his name on every Irish Banknote during his tenure as Central Bank Governor, it is quite an achievement for him to be ushering in this era of change for the whole of Europe, despite his prolific career so far.