MICHAEL NOONAN HAS confirmed that discussions took place in 2012 about security in the event of a default by Ireland, but said he doesn’t know if Enda Kenny was warned about needing the army to guard ATMs.
The Finance Minister was speaking in the wake of Kenny yesterday recalling a warning from the governor of the Central Bank at the height of the financial crisis.
According to the Taoiseach, Patrick Honohan warned him about the introduction of capital controls on banks and the army possibly being needed to protect ATMs.
Doubts have been cast on Taoiseach’s claims, which he has made repeatedly in recent weeks, with opposition politicians asking why neither Kenny nor Honohan raised them in their evidence to the banking inquiry.
Speaking in Dublin this morning, Noonan said there were discussions among members of the Economic Management Council, which comprises of himself, Kenny, the Tánaiste and Public Expenditure minister, about the issue of security.
“There was 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,” Noonan said.
“That was a very difficult time. I suppose the best way of understanding what was happening in the background at that time is what happened in Greece a couple of months ago where capital controls were introduced and the amount of money that could be withdrawn from ATMs was restricted to €60 in the case of Greece.
So if something similar happened in Ireland, and if ATM machines actually 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.”
Noonan confirmed these discussions took place in 2012 but when asked if he was aware of Honohan’s specific warning to the Taoiseach, the Fine Gael TD said he wasn’t privy to such conversations.
Maybe he did in one-to-ones with the Taoiseach but not in a general forum that I attended. But, yes, it was there as an issue and it’s in the context that I describe.