Wednesday 28 September 2016

Honohan declines to say if Central Bank was involved in 'Army at ATM' talks

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Published 29/10/2015 | 22:26

Patrick Honohan
Patrick Honohan

CENTRAL Bank Governor Patrick Honohan has tonight refused to get into the detail of his conversations with the Taoiseach over whether the army was being lined up to guard ATMs.

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Mr Honohan said that he did discuss contingency plans for the possible collapse  of the Euro currency.

Asked if he advised Enda Kenny that the army might be needed to protect ATMs, the governor said he wouldn’t get into the detail of conversations he has had with the Taoiseach.

"I was in no doubt he had officials in other departments talking about contingencies of that type, that's not territory the Central Bank is involved in or was involved in, and I think that is clear now from what he is saying now,” he said.

Mr Honohan said that discussion did take place in 2012 and “lots of outre ideas” were thrown around.

He added: "I think his [the Taoiseach's] recent clarifications put this story to bed really."

He said the Central Bank did their own contingency planning, "which we do not tell anyone about, but we also participated in Government exercises, we participated very fully".

Mr Kenny has backtracked on comments he made in Madrid last week, while still insisting that the option of assigning Defence Force officers to cash machines was considered.

The Taoiseach had told the conference of the European People's Party: "The Governor of the Central Bank in Ireland said to me, 'It looks like this weekend... you'll have to put the Army around the banks and around the ATM machines and introduce capital controls, like they had in Cyprus.'"

Mr Kenny added: "So we've pulled back from that brink."

However, Mr Kenny now says that it was not a "specific" briefing from Mr Honohan, but added that the issue was discussed during a taskforce meeting in early 2012.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams branded Taoiseach Enda Kenny a “spoofer” over his claims that the former Governor of the Central Bank told him the army may be needed to protect the banks and ATMs at the height financial crisis.

He said the remark was the “type of thing the Taoiseach is prone to say” and referenced Mr Kenny’s controversial claim he met a man with two pints in his hand who complained about water charges.

“All of this tomfoolery, getting carried away with himself, making an ejjit of himself shows the need for practical based, people centred politics,” Mr Adams said.

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