Brian Lenihan wanted to take Anglo Irish Bank into public ownership before the bank guarantee was introduced.
The former finance minister was overruled by others who refused to nationalise the bank with a view to shutting it down, according to the governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, who is giving evidence to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.
He also told Fine Gael senator Michael D'Arcy he won't name the people who overruled Lenihan on the decision.
"The point is obvious … I don't want to be on television naming people," he said, citing instruction from the committee chair on naming individuals.
Asked bluntly who has authority to overrule the Minister for Finance, he said "... the Taoiseach and the Attorney General were present, and they were the only other political people that were present."
Honohan also said he understands why the cabinet decided to issue a blanket guarantee at the time.
"I have the greatest sympathy for the political people on the night of the guarantee. One should recognise that in the context of the advice they were being given, the decisions taken were quite understandable."