Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has refused to rule out interest in becoming the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following speculation.
Mr Donohoe, who is also president of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, said his focus is on his current roles and the next general election.
Speaking to reporters at an event in Dublin city, he said: “I’ve been very clear that my interest is in continuing my work in Irish and European politics.
“I’m very privileged to be a member of this government and a TD for Dublin Central and I’ve been re-elected to a second term as president of the Eurogroup – that’s where my focus is.”
Asked if he was completely ruling out taking the job, Mr Donohoe said: “There’s no vacancy for that role and I’ve made clear where my focus is.”
He said that IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, who has not publicly stated her intentions of seeking a second term, is doing an “excellent job”.
The Fine Gael politician said he has been asked many times about his ambitions and has always answered “plainly”.
He added: “I’m going to continue with the work I have and see it through. We have a general election coming up in Ireland in some point in the next 12-18 months.
“I think the parties in Government at the moment have the ability to campaign individually but get re-elected and re-form this Government and that’s where my energy will lie.”
Asked if he would seek to be the next managing director of the IMF if his party is not re-elected to Government, he said: “You’re asking me to comment on what may happen in the future on the back of a decision that another person may make.”
The Eurogroup president said there is always “speculation and conversations” regarding who will take up roles in the future.
Earlier, the Minister for Finance said Mr Donohoe has “all of the qualities and credentials and experience necessary to fulfil” the IMF role but added he should be given time and space to come to a view on taking the job.
Michael McGrath told RTE: “And isn’t it a great thing that a member of the Irish government has been associated with the position of managing director of one of the most important global economic bodies and it’s a matter for him to come to a personal view ultimately, and I know what he has said through his spokesperson about the desire to serve the full term as president of the Eurogroup and to contest the next election.
“My own view is that we should allow minister Donohoe the time and space as this develops over the months ahead to come to a final view on it.
“If the opportunity is there, it really is for him to decide as to whether he wishes to put himself forward. But this will develop, we don’t even yet know whether there will be a vacancy, whether Kristalina Georgieva will seek a second term – she may, she may not.
“But he certainly would be a very strong and a very credible candidate and I think we should just allow this to develop.
“I think he has a really good chance. I’m not saying for a moment that we want him to put himself forward. But it is an incredible opportunity, if it becomes available. That is an if, and I think he has all of the qualities to fulfil the role.”
Mr McGrath was also asked if he would like to become Ireland’s next European Commissioner, to which he replied: “I mean, the same points apply here because that is an incredibly important position for Ireland.
“I’m in the position that I’m in now for the past year, I had the privilege of serving as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I love the job I do. I do want to bring forward another budget and it is my intention to contest the next election.
“And, again, I think we should allow the party leaders to have their discussion across the first half of next year as to what is in the country’s best interests.”
Asked about the possibility of Mr McGrath taking up a commissioner role in the EU, Mr Donohoe said: “I think we do need to take a step back here – we’re all talking about who may be doing what in the future.
“I know how much Michael McGrath values being Minister for Finance and what an exceptional job he is doing in that role.
“And I’m sure he – like me – is very focused on the duties he has.”
Mr Donohoe said the finance minister would “perform exceptionally in any number of roles in the future”.
He added: “I think he is an exceptionally accomplished colleague and politician.”