Monday 18 November 2019

Security at Irish banks discussed by Economic Management Council in 2012 - Noonan

Comments come after Taoiseach comes under fire over 'army at the ATMs' speech

Changes introduced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan have
been welcomed by farming families
Changes introduced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan have been welcomed by farming families
Michael Noonan

Colm Kelpie

Securing the banks was discussed by the Economic Management Council in 2012 amid concerns that Ireland would default on its debts and ATM machines would run out of cash, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said this morning.

It follows claims by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that he was warned to have the army on standby to prevent a run on ATM machines.

Mr Kenny also said he was told by Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan that capital controls, similar to those introduced in Cyprus, needed to be urgently considered during the height of the economic crisis.

Mr Noonan said this morning that the issue was discussed by the powerful EMC, made up of the Taoiseach, Tanaiste, Mr Noonan and Brendan Howlin.

"There were discussions at the Economic Management Council. There were stories around of a possible default in Ireland at that stage and we were looking at the consequences of that and certainly the issue of security came up," Mr Noonan said.

"It was a very difficult time. The best way of understanding what was happening in the background at that time was what happened in Greece just a couple of months ago when capital controls were introduced and the amount of money that could have been withdrawn from ATMs was restricted to €60 in the case of Greece.

"If something similar happened in Ireland and ATM machines ran out of money, there was quite clearly security considerations and there were discussions about what might be done but then in the nature of things, things passed on and the discussions were never turned into an actual security plan."

Mr Noonan said Mr Honohan did not make any intervention in any forum the minister attended, although he could not rule out that a conversation took place between Mr Kenny and Mr Honohan.

It is understood the Central Bank was puzzled by Mr Kenny's claim.

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