DUBLIN (Reuters) - The authorization process for financial services firms wanting to set up in Ireland following Britain's vote to leave the European Union cannot be short circuited, a central bank official said on Monday.

The Irish government has called Britain's EU exit plans the greatest foreign policy challenge in decades but the potential to draw business away from the City of London could offset some of the economic damage.

Officials have said there has been a jump in enquiries from firms in London about opening offices in Dublin due to fears they will lose access to the EU's "passporting" arrangement that allows them to sell products throughout the bloc.

"Following the UK referendum, there is the potential for a material increase in the number of applications for authorization by the central bank," Gerry Cross, director of policy and risk at the bank, said in a speech.


"We stand ready to do our job; we are open for engagement. We will do so on the basis of an active, open stance, ready to engage, but in line with our duty to protect consumers, and in keeping with international standards," Cross said.

Dublin is one of a handful of European cities competing for potential investment after the Brexit vote. French regulators offered last week to speed up the registration of firms leaving London by handling their files in English.

Cross said the Irish central bank would want to be satisfied that the business, or line of business, of the firm seeking to move would be run from Ireland and that, in general, would mean the board and management were located in the country.

The bank's plans for 2017 reflected the need to increase its supervisory staff, Cross said, but it faced significant competition for skilled resources that could become even tougher if a new wave of financial services firms entered the country.

He rejected the idea applications could be fast-tracked just because a firm had already been licensed by Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

"This is not a process that can be short circuited simply because the entity may previously have been authorized elsewhere," Cross said.

"All this being said, a group with an entity that has been authorized and is currently supervised by the FCA/PRA and/or that has had model approval, should be in a position to quite quickly get a complete application together."

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by David Clarke)

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