Gilmore backs Kenny ATM story but says it was not from Honohan

Ex-tánaiste recalls crisis meeting where re-launch of punt was discussed

Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said outgoing Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan was not the person who spoke about the possibility of the army being used to protect ATM machines.

Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said outgoing Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan was not the person who spoke about the possibility of the army being used to protect ATM machines.

 

Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said outgoing Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan was not the person who spoke about the possibility of the army being used to protect ATM machines.

However, the ex-Labour leader has backed Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s story that increasing security at ATMs was discussed at a meeting when the euro crisis was at its worst.

The Fine Gael leader was criticised by the Opposition for telling a European People’s Party (EPP) conference in Madrid that Mr Honohan had told him to prepare to deploy the Army.

Mr Kenny later said he did not receive a specific briefing from the Central Bank but the proposal had been discussed by a Government taskforce which involved the Central Bank.

Mr Gilmore, speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ, said the story was familiar.

“I recall when he used that language in Madrid I’d heard that phraseology before,” he said.

“I remember one particular crisis meeting that we had...where the Governor of the Central Bank was present. We talked about what would we need to do to re-launch the punt. How quickly could it be printed,” he said.

“One of the things that we considered was the possibility of public disorder, of panic, and there was a decision made to ask senior officials to liaise with the gardaí and the army about the security measures that would be needed in that period of time.

“I recall somebody saying at the meeting something to the effect of the order of, ‘Oh my God will we have to have soldiers guarding the ATM machines?’.

He added: “I’m satisfied by the way that it wasn’t the Governor of the Central Bank that said it.”

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore also said he was “very annoyed” that he had not been informed about developments that led to the resignation of former garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

“I found out that former commissioner Martin Callinan was to retire or had decided to retire on a Tuesday morning when I came in for the normal meeting that I would have with Labour Ministers before the Cabinet meeting.

“I was told that the Taoiseach wanted to see me urgently before my meeting with the Labour Ministers. He told me about the discussions he had with the then secretary general of the Department of Justice [BRIAN PURCELL]about the decision by the then garda commissioner to retire.

“I established in that conversation that this had arisen from information that the Taoiseach had received on the previous Sunday.

“I was very annoyed that I hadn’t been informed of this in the intervening two days.”

Mr Gilmore said he used the opportunity to press the case for the establishment of a Garda Authority.

Mr Gilmore’s has published a book, ‘Inside the Room: The untold story of Ireland’s crisis government’, which chronicles his period in the Tánaiste’s office from 2011 until 2014.

He said he found about a letter Mr Callinan had sent to the secretary general two weeks before.

“If it had transpired that the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice had known about that letter before the Cabinet meeting and had not told me about it then that would have been the end of the Government.

“But I was subsequently satisfied both from the discussions I had with Alan Shatter and with the Taoiseach that they didn’t know about it.”