Speaking at a European People’s Party meeting in Madrid on Thursday, Mr Kenny claimed outgoing Central Bank governor Prof Patrick Honohan told him after Fine Gael came to power in early 2011, Ireland needed to introduce capital controls including placing the army on ATM and banks due to the precarious financial situation.
“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,” he said, adding the story shows “we’ve pulled back from the brink”.
While the Taoiseach has referenced the apparent conversation on three other occasions in the past, the Central Bank, Department of an Taoiseach and the Department of Defence have failed to provide any evidence it took place, leading to opposition claims the comment is a “self-aggrandising” stunt.
Responding to the claims yesterday morning, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he is not aware of the conversation taking place.
While confirming security issues were discussed at the time, which came after the the bailout and when it was believed the State had enough funds for three years, he said he does not recall any conversation, although it may have occurred in “one-to-ones” between Mr Kenny and Prof Honohan.
“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.
“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.
“If something similar [to Greece] 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,” he said.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin joined the chorus of criticism over Mr Kenny’s claim last night, saying the Taoiseach needs to clarify the comments and prove that the “fairytale” happened.
“If he is prepared to divulge this information to his political allies in Spain, he should give the Irish people a full account,” he said.