Saturday 3 December 2016

Confusion after Kenny claim that Army was on standby to guard ATMs

Niall O'Connor and Colm Kelpie

Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30

Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny
Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's assertion that he was warned to have the Army on standby in order to prevent a run on the banks was last night being called into question.

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Mr Kenny told an audience in Madrid about a briefing he said he received from then-Central Bank governor Professor Patrick Honohan over the prospect of the ATMs running out of cash after he took office in 2011.

"If people want to follow an illusion that you don't have to pay your way, you don't have to measure up, then there are serious consequences for any country," Mr Kenny said.

"We were down that road. We were over the edge.

"The Governor of the Central Bank in Ireland said to me: 'It looks like this weekend ... you'll have to put Army around the banks and around the ATM machines and introduce capital controls like they had in Cyprus'. So we've pulled back from that brink."

But the remarks by Mr Kenny about having the banks on standby were seized by the Opposition, who asked why Mr Kenny failed to mention the scenario during his appearance before the Banking Inquiry.

And the Central Bank is understood to be confused by the Taoiseach's claims, with one source speculating that Mr Kenny may be getting confused with plans to deal with a potential break-up of the eurozone at the time. A spokesman for the Central Bank, however, declined to comment.

The Defence Forces were redirecting queries on the issue to the Government Press Office.

Sources said they have contingency plans in place for most things although it's not clear whether there was something as specific as suggested by the Taoiseach. Mr Kenny said he received the briefing from Professor Hohohan shortly after the coalition took over power. "Shortly after I was elected to Government," he said.

"The situation was so dire, it became a real possibility," the Mayo TD said at a European People's Party conference.

"The Government continued to make its decisions.

"We discussed these crises at EMC. We made recommendations to Cabinet which they accepted. Obviously, we were able to move back from that economic brink," he added.

Mr Kenny also described the Troika's arrival in Ireland as a "bloodless coup".

The Opposition last night called on Mr Kenny to clarify his remarks in the Dáil.

Clarify

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty claimed that Mr Kenny failed to mention the briefing from Prof Honohan during his appearance as a witness in front of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

"Kenny needs to clarify his comments re Honohan suggesting that Army be called to secure ATMs and why he didn't mention this to banking inquiry," he tweeted.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath meanwhile accused Mr Kenny of trying to "make himself look good in front of his European political colleagues".

"Unless the Taoiseach immediately confirms the detail of what specific events he is referring to, people will be left with no alternative but to assume that this is yet another self-aggrandising story."

Irish Independent

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