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The Central Bank has no record of Enda's 'army at the ATMs' claim

One source in Dame Street says that they’re “not sure where this story came from or why it keeps being repeated as fact”.

Image: Dominic Lipinski

THE CENTRAL BANK has no record of any correspondence being sent to or from the Taoiseach’s office regarding the drafting of a Special Powers Act.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had claimed Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan had warned him during the crisis that the army might be needed to guard banks and ATMs in the event of capital controls being implemented by the government.

He made the claims both at home, at a Fine Gael fundraiser on 7 October, and abroad, at a European People’s Party meeting in Madrid later that month.

Kenny was then forced to clarify that there had been “no specific briefing” from the governor of the Central Bank.

Sources within the Central Bank have long said that they are “puzzled” over both Kenny’s and Defence Minister Simon Coveney’s repetition of the story.

One source in Dame Street says that they’re “not sure where this story came from or why it keeps being repeated as fact”.

screenshot.1449235080.6170 Source: www.thejournal.ie

In a Freedom of Information request to the Central Bank, TheJournal.ie asked for:

All documents sent by the Taoiseach’s Office to the Governor of the Central Bank which relate to the drafting of a Special Powers Act in the event of a eurozone break-up or debt default by Ireland. The date range for this is 9 March 2011 to 31 December 2013.

and

All documents and correspondence related to the briefing given by the governor of the Central Bank to the Taoiseach, regarding the possible necessity to put the Army around ATMs upon the introduction of capital controls during the financial crisis, as referred to by the Taoiseach in the Dáil on 20 October 2015. The date range for this is 9 March 2011 to 31 December 2013.

The Central Bank has always declined to comment on the issue, but both requests brought the same response:

The record concerned does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken.

In both cases, the office of the governor conducted extensive searches on email correspondence and hard copy files. Neither search proved fruitful.

The same request was also made of the Department of the Taoiseach.

However the department said it was exempted from releasing any records on the grounds of security and international relations of the State and the financial and economic interests of the State.

Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting Central Bank Governor, Professor Patrick Honohan Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The idea of the army manning ATMs was floated in Sunday Business Post political editor Pat Leahy’s book ‘The Price of Power – Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition’, which was published two years ago and charts the first two years of the current coalition.

He writes about how a “top-secret committee” of civil servants worked on a plan to ensure the functioning of the state and society in the event of a sudden break-up of the eurozone or an Irish debt default.

However, Kenny had expressly stated he had a conversation with Honohan:

The governor told me, it looks like this weekend, a few years ago, you’ll have to put the 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.

Opposition TDs called the claims a “very serious matter” with Willie O’Dea going as far as calling Kenny a man who “suffers from flights of fancy that makes Walter Mitty look positively unimaginative”.

The Taoiseach’s office says Kenny has commented on the issue and his comments are “a matter of public record”.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

Read: Enda now says ‘no specific briefing’ about putting the army around ATMs

Read: The army and the ATMs: Was Enda talking about the ‘most secret committee in government’?

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