Des Cahill took pivotal bailout call from Patrick Honohan
RTÉ sports presenter picked up phone when Central Bank governer rang Morning Ireland
Des Cahill: I don’t remember verbatim what he said but as soon as he said ‘it’s Patrick Honohan’ I knew it was important. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Prof Patrick Honohan, governor of the Central Bank arriving at the Dáil on Thursday for the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Prof Honohan, who appeared before the Oireachtas banking inquiry yesterday, took to the airwaves on November 18th, 2010 to say substantial financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was coming Ireland’s way.
Mr Cahill, who began his RTÉ career as a news reporter, recalled taking the call from Frankfurt, where Prof Honohan was attending the European Central Bank’s governing council meeting.
“I’ve a keen interest in current affairs and in the mornings we would be shooting the breeze. He rang in. I don’t remember verbatim what he said but as soon as he said ‘it’s Patrick Honohan’ I knew it was important,” Mr Cahill told The Irish Times.
“I said, ‘Will you talk to the programme?’ I took his number and ran into the studio.”
Prof Honohan’s intervention was significant because it came after days of confusion when ministers had tried to play down the likelihood of a bailout, even after Cabinet had formally decided to begin discussions with the IMF and EU.
Mr Cahill recalled the time as being “volatile” but said his involvement in the story was not particularly unusual.
“It’s not that extraordinary. It’s a newsroom so when a call comes in it’s not rare for me to take it. There wouldn’t have been that many people there,” he said.
UCD economics professor Morgan Kelly later said of Prof Honohan’s intervention: “Rarely has a finance minister been so deftly sliced off at the ankles by his central bank governor”.
A question to Prof Honohan about Prof Kelly’s question at yesterday’s banking inquiry hearings was not permitted as it was considered more appropriate for a future module.