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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
A queue formed on O'Connell street last night.
boi glitch

Gardaí say they received more than 40 calls from public over rush on ATMs

Gardaí say there was no national directive to police ATMs but questions have been raised about their presence at some machines.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 16th 2023, 7:48 PM

GARDAÍ HAVE SAID they received more than 40 calls over four hours last night in relation to the rush on ATMs amid a Bank of Ireland error.

Significant queues formed at a number of ATM locations across the country yesterday evening amid rumours that people were able to withdraw more money than they had available in their BOI accounts.

Gardaí were deployed to some of those ATMs, with a garda spokesperson telling The Journal today that they were only present to ensure public order and public safety.

Today, BOI has suggested that it won’t charge interest to customers who withdrew extra cash during the IT glitch. 

While An Garda Síochána told The Journal that there was no national directive, they confirmed there were calls from command and control centres to stations in at least three regions after becoming aware of both large queues forming and an issue at a financial institution. 

Gardaí posted to ATMs in the late evening dispersed queues and, in some instances closed access at the ATMs.

In a statement this evening, gardaí said they “became aware of an unusual volume of public activity at some ATMs across the country” yesterday evening.

The statement said: “Gardaí received in excess of 40 calls across our 4 Regional Garda Control Rooms, between 8pm and 12 midnight, from members of the public primarily concerned as to the level of public activity taking place and crowds gathering at ATMs but also including small number of calls at ATMs relating to public order incidents and 1 call in relation to an assault/robbery.

Events last night involved a complicated set of circumstances involving large sums of cash in circulation, in some instances large crowds and queues gathering and a developing and escalating situation.

“In response to this dynamic and evolving situation and to ensure public safety, decisions were made locally on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances presenting to control rooms and operational members. This is the reality of day to day operational policing.”

However, speaking to The Journal, the Social Democrats justice spokesperson Catherine Murphy said questions still need to be answered about whether directives were sent to gardaí to protect ATMs.

“When I saw the pictures last night at ATM machines, I was thinking to myself, this is a civil matter. Who actually gave the instruction? What prompted this? Because this is extraordinary,” she said. 


“It wasn’t as if people were being beaten up at ATM machines, they were queuing. I don’t know if they were legitimately looking for money. But the thing is that if people take money out that they don’t have, there’s avenues to pursue people,” she said, stating that this is a problem wholly caused by Bank of Ireland.

“It was extraordinary, an extraordinary use of Garda manpower, at a point where, you know, there’s other issues being raised in relation to safety on the streets. It sends an incredible signal about where the priorities are,” she added. 

Murphy said that if a glitch like this prompts that kind of response “it shows actually a double vulnerability”. 

It is unclear how many ATMs were subject to garda patrols last night.

It is understood the first call came through the Galway command and control centre in the Western Region, before similar information being given to stations in other regions.

The Journal understands that the call from command and control in Cork led to deployments across some locations in at least one other county in Munster.

Labour’s Justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin told this website that he found the images of gardaí “protecting ATMs” last night as “unnerving”. 

He questioned on what basis the gardaí were there, stating that answers need to be provided as to who instructed them to go there.

“People are perfectly entitled to line up behind an ATM machine and take out whatever they have in their account. The problem with that image is it gives a sense of the State, through the gardaí, protecting a private bank and the basis on which they were doing it seems to be a bit questionable.

“Like, who made the call? Who asked then to do it? Who made the order? What were they trying to achieve?” he asked. 

Ó Ríordáin said he felt unnerved by the incident “particularly in the climate of justice and crime being an issue and arguments around backup guarding personnel in certain areas and people feeling unsafe”.

“As soon as BOI had a problem, which has €1.4 billion worth of profit last year, the system was able to call on the guards to protect them. And I mean, was there evidence of criminal behavior or people acting in a criminal fashion?” he asked. 

The Labour spokesperson said if someone withdrew money from an ATM that they did not have in their account, then it is a matter for BOI to take up with its customer. 

‘Powerful image’

“The image is quite powerful, and in any other context and any other time, it would have been unnerving but particularly in the current context, with the argument around garda numbers and a garda presence is so cute,” he added. 

Speaking to The Journal, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan also said it was an “unusual use of garda resources”, stating that ATMs are a public utility that the public are entitled to use.

He said it is generally the case that gardaí only respond to such incidents if a complaint has been made. 

“Bank of Ireland should indicate whether or not it made a complaint to the gardaí and if so, did the gardaí respond to that complaint, and what was the basis of the complaint,” said O’Callaghan. 

Sinn Féin’s justice spokesperson said clarity is needed as to why An Garda Síochána was tasked with “tidying up the bank’s mess”.

“It would be more in the banks line to get its house in order than returning to the State for assistance every time it needs help especially at a time when garda resources are stretched,” he said. 

In a statement last night, a garda spokesperson also said that they wanted to “remind people of their personal responsibility in carrying out their personal banking”.

Finance Minister Michael McGrath has said he wants a “full account” about what happened with the BOI glitch.

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