Wednesday 16 October 2019

Enda Kenny: We were days away from dispatching army to prevent bank run

Ireland's general election will be held next spring, premier Enda Kenny has said.
Ireland's general election will be held next spring, premier Enda Kenny has said.

Niall O'Connor in Madrid

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has spoken in detail for the first time about being warned to have the army on standby in order to prevent a run on the country's banks.

Mr Kenny 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.

The Fine Gael leader told a conference in Madrid this morning that Ireland was "pulled back from the brink" and that there was a real danger that the ATM machines would be emptied.

"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'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," he added. He said he received the warning a "few years ago" but did not specify the exact date.

While the warning from Mr Honohan has been spoken about by Coalition figure in the past, Mr Kenny has to date declined to comment on any briefings he received.

He made the remarks during a lengthy questions and answers session at the annual European Peoples Party (EPP) conference in Madrid. Fine Gael is a member of the EPP, which has the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny told delegates that the General Election in Ireland will be held "early in the Spring".

This indicates that he is considering a polling date in February or early March, rather than holding out until April.

Mr Kenny said the Troika's arrival in Ireland was like a "bloodless coup" and that the government was directed to make extremely difficult decisions.

The Mayo TD told the conference that among the first decisions taken by the government was the removal of State cars for ministers.

He also said he also took the decision himself to walk to work.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny made a rallying call to EPP politicians to support the candidacy of European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy for the position of EPP Vice President.

Mr Murphy has found himself at the centre of recent controversy after he and his wife received a lift from on duty gardai from Cork to Dublin after his car broke down.

The Cork TDs nomination for the position has caused tensions within Fine Gael, with one source today suggesting that Commissioner Phil Hogan or Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness would be better suited.

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