Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of making up a “self-aggrandising story” to add to his ‘man with two pints’ tale, after saying the Central Bank told him on entering office to put soldiers on banks’ doors due to Ireland’s dire financial crisis.
Speaking at a European People’s Party meeting in Madrid yesterday, the Fine Gael leader highlighted how far Ireland has come under his watch by recalling a conversation with outgoing Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan in early 2011.
Mr Kenny said the governor told him capital controls may be needed as Ireland was tumbling off the fiscal cliff due to the previous administration.
“The governor told me ‘it looks like this weekend, you’ll have to put the army around the banks and ATM machines, and introduce capital controls like in Cyprus’,” said Mr Kenny.
“We’ve pulled back from the brink,” he said, referring to the EU/IMF bailout as a “bloodless coup”.
The Taoiseach has referenced the conversation on three other occasions, including Tuesday’s Dáil, at an October 7 Fine Gael breakfast fundraiser, and during June’s Greek crisis. Defence Minister Simon Coveney also referred to it during a November 28 interview.
The Central Bank, and departments of the Taoiseach and Defence did not clarify the matter yesterday.
However, opposition parties noted Mr Kenny and Mr Honohan made no reference whatsoever to the discussion under oath at the bank inquiry and that the Central Bank has no security role.
Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath said after Mr Coveney’s comments last November that Finance Minister Michael Noonan clarified in the Dáil: “The Central Bank would have no role in relation to briefing on security deployment.”
Mr McGrath said the painting of an “apocalyptic” 2011 scene “smacks of an attempt to make himself look good in front of his European colleagues”, and claimed the conversation was “another self-aggrandising story”.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty was equally damning, saying that, like Mr Kenny’s infamous “man with two pints” Irish Water remark, there is no proof the conversation took place and Mr Kennymust clarify the comment to the bank inquiry.
While casting doubt on the “colourful remarks”, Renua Ireland’s Lucinda Creighton said Mr Kenny is “right to remind us of bad economics”.
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