Check against Delivery
Address by Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD at Opening of New Central Bank Building
I’m delighted to have been invited here to speak at the inauguration of the Central Bank’s new Docklands Campus.
The Central Bank is a key institution of the State; recognised by Sam Stephenson in his iconic design for the Dame Street building almost forty years ago.
Since then, the Bank has undergone significant change, evolving in response to the challenges, and indeed the criticisms, it has faced. I am proud to say, that in these ever more challenging and uncertain times, the Bank is recognised internationally as a credible, strong, and independent regulator.
This recognition is attributable to the expansion in both the staff and the skills of the organisation, but also the change in the culture of the organisation. I want to acknowledge that this change has taken real commitment from the Bank’s staff. It has been driven by the public service ethos of the Bank, which places the public good, at the core of its mandate of safeguarding financial stability and protecting consumers.
This is a confident new building, for a new time in financial regulation, in the heart of Dublin’s financial district. The location will allow the Bank to fulfil its intentions to be a more ‘hands on’ regulator, and this striking building will be a visual reminder to industry of the Bank’s presence and responsibilities. The location of the Central Bank here should support engagement and dialogue between the Bank and the firms it regulates. It is vital that firms know the high standards that they must meet and the Central Bank fully understands the operations of these firms. This engagement is particularly important as the Central Bank meets with firms considering relocation to Ireland. I know that the Central Bank’s standing as a strong and independent regulator is a key component of creating a successful and attractive jurisdiction for the location of financial services activities in a post Brexit world.
The internal design of the building is a reflection of the Bank’s new internal culture and approach to working; the open layout is designed to nurture a collaborative and communicative working environment. This is particularly important in linking the Financial Regulation functions with the equally important Central Banking functions. The Central Bank of Ireland’s monetary policy responsibilities can be clearly seen in the operations undertaken through the Asset Purchase Programme, which are a significant driver of the Bank’s balance sheet and most importantly its profits that are paid to the Exchequer.
The new building is no less uniquely recognisable than the old. Although Éamonn O'Doherty’s iconic ‘Crann an Óir’ sculpture, which has become synonymous with the Bank over the years, is not making the move from Dame Street, it is good to see that the Central Bank is staying “on brand” with the new foirgneamh óir. Through their design, the architects have connected the Bank to the maritime history of its new docklands home; I’m told the triangular panels encasing us have been designed to look like the sails of tall ships.
It may be gold without, but this building has been designed to be green and is particularly remarkable for its high levels of energy efficiency and sustainability. And it’s not just the building that’s environmentally friendly, it seems like all of you are too, if the 300 bicycle spaces are any indicator.
I am also pleased to note the Governor’s intention that the Bank forge ties with its new neighbours; apart from being a major business district, this area is home to a proud, long-established community. Indeed, this work has already begun, as the Bank is supporting a number of outreach initiatives with local community groups, and also, in conjunction with Walls Construction, provided well-received safe pass and manual handling training to a number of local residents. There will be many opportunities for learning and growth on both sides of this relationship, and I look forward to seeing it develop.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that we have some of the country’s brightest young economists in this room – congratulations to the winners of the Generation €uro Students' Award. It’s great to see such talent and interest from these young people, who will be part of a future generation of leaders – some of you may even be back here at the Central Bank in a few years’ time.
Today is a day for celebration; a new dawn for the Central Bank in a distinctive new building, designed for new and open ways of working.
There has been a massive collaborative effort by all concerned in this move, and I congratulate you all on the smooth transition from Dame Street; no doubt the NTMA will be looking to you for pointers.
Before I finish, I’d like to particularly acknowledge the efforts of Patrick Honohan in setting the course for cultural change within the Bank; and to wish Governor Lane ‘fair winds’ as he steers this golden ship.
Ends 24 April, 2017