Monday 26 September 2016

No minutes to back up 'Army at ATMs' claims

Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30

Enda Kenny has backtracked on comments he made about the Defence Forces being made available to guard ATMs
Enda Kenny has backtracked on comments he made about the Defence Forces being made available to guard ATMs

There are no minutes from the meeting where Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he was briefed about the possibility of the Defence Forces being made available to guard ATMs.

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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 the Central Bank governer Patrick Honohan, but added that the issue was discussed during a taskforce meeting in early 2012.

Taskforce

The taskforce was set up to devise contingency plans in the event of the collapse of the euro currency and involved officials from the Department of Finance and the Central Bank, including Mr Honohan.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach was unable to provide a date for the meeting. Asked whether minutes existed, he replied: "Generally, minutes aren't kept for security matters."

The spokesman added: "A number of contingency plans were being discussed around what was a very uncertain time." Central Bank sources have said they were "confused" by Mr Kenny's comments in Madrid, while the Defence Forces have declined to comment.

But Mr Kenny said: "These were matters that were being discussed. There was a lot of talk within different governments that there might be an end to the euro currency."

Responding to the Taoiseach's comments, ex-Fianna Fáil minister Willie O'Dea said: "The Taoiseach suffers from flights of fantasy that make Walter Mitty look positively unimaginative."

Irish Independent

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