Trinity College economist, researcher and banking expert Dr Patrick Honohan, has emerged as the leading contender to become governor of the Central Bank.

The Department of Finance, which has discretion over the appointment, traditionally appoints the serving secretary-general of the Department of Finance to the position, but this is not expected to happen this time under finance minister Brian Lenihan.

Honohan, who last week published a paper on solving the banking crisis, is admired in government circles and has been consulted on banking issues in recent months, the department acknowledged last week. Whoever takes up the post will be asked to chair the new Central Bank Commission, which will regulate financial services.

The department is also considering certain overseas candidates. The government wants to make a clean break from the past with the appointment, believing that the Central Bank failed to halt Ireland's financial crisis.

The bank's serving governor, John Hurley, has argued that it did warn government about the overheated property market, but its warnings were not heeded. Its Financial Stability reports were not able to prompt action by the banks or government, Hurley admitted recently.