UCD economics professor Morgan Kelly has warned that a new European Central Bank (ECB) "clean-up" of Irish banks could force large numbers of small businesses across the country to close.
Prof Kelly,who is widely regarded as the man who most accurately and most powerfully forecast the scale of Ireland’s property-led demise, says the country could be facing a serious threat in the near future.
Quoted in a video of one of his lectures, Prof Kelly said the Frankfurt-based ECB wished to have a "trial run" on Ireland and take action against the banks' distressed loans.
If there was to be a quick "clean-up" of remaining Irish banks, Ireland could be facing something "very, very horrible quite soon".
Prof Kelly also said a big chunk of the Irish economy could be wiped out in one go.
He was speaking at a question and answer session for students at UCD last week and his comments have been broadcast on YouTube.
Prof Kelly said the governor of the ECB, Mario Draghi, and not the Government had been behind the recent recovery in the Irish economy.
"The ECB has basically kept pumping that sweet, sweet credit into our veins and we haven't had the real crisis yet," he said.
Speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton appeared to reject such suggestions.
Ms Burton said she would have to be convinced that there was a change of policy at the ECB. She said ECB President Mario Draghi's promise of a bond-buying programme had staved off the eurozone crisis and there was no reason for him to depart from his overall approach now.
This was particularly important given the crisis in Ukraine.
The minister said she hoped Prof Kelly's forecast was erring on the pessimistic side.