The sad news that Martin O’Donoghue had died was heard with particular emotion in the Institute of International and European Affairs where, quite apart from his warm personal relations and friendship with many IIEA colleagues, he was respected for his significant contribution to the Institute in creating and leading the Institute’s Economists Group.
In 1993, as the Institute was developing its programme across many fields, an informal group of economists interested in European policy issues began to meet for a private monthly lunch at which short presentations were made, followed by discussion. The group, from the beginning, was drawn from economists in the public and private sectors, trade unions, the media, universities and research institutes. The 1993-1994 Annual Report of the Institute commented that the group was seen “as a continuing resource in policy analysis and the generation of topics for research.” The 2016 Annual Report listed eleven meetings of the group covering subjects including the Irish housing market, fiscal consolidation, corporate taxation, the Irish Banking System, pension sustainability and the post-Brexit economy
The fact that the Economists Group became firmly established and seen as unmissable by many of the country’s leading economists lay in the status and the personality of its leader for seventeen years, Martin O’Donoghue. From the outset, he established a structure, a rigour and, more importantly, a special ethos for the group which ensured that its sessions were at once socially pleasant and intellectually stimulating. In particular, he welcomed the participation of younger economists and encouraged their engagement in the group’s in-depth debates on the issues of the day -EMU, FDI, regulatory governance, fiscal policy – and thus advancing their professional lives.
Martin O’Donoghue brought to the Economists Group a unique mixture of academic achievement and teaching reputation, political experience – in particular as Minister for Economic Planning and Development and Minister for Education – membership of the Board of the Central Bank and deep commitment to the role of civil society. His contribution was made with characteristic openness and good humour. He led the group from 1993 to 2010 when he passed the role to Pat McArdle who has shared the group chair with David Croughan.