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Sunday 4 December 2016

Ministers kept in dark on Enda's plans for 'army to guard ATMs'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had secret meetings over banks
Taoiseach Enda Kenny had secret meetings over banks

Meetings where Taoiseach Enda Kenny says issues such as having the army available to guard ATMs were kept off-diary and kept secret from most members of the Cabinet.

A series of secret meetings took place not just at Government level, but also within the Central Bank throughout 2012, as the Euro edged toward collapse.

The Herald has learned that the meeting of a Government special task force was convened at the start of the summer in 2012 in the Sycamore Room in Government Buildings.

Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach said the issue of bank security was raised during a task force discussion about the possibility of the break-up of the euro.

The question on his army comments, made last week during an EPP conference in Madrid, was put to him three times but he declined to explain or repeat them.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said Mr Kenny "never claimed that there was a specific one-on-one briefing" regarding a contingency plan.

"But rather that the Central Bank and the Governor were part of a conversation about contingencies being put in place in anticipation of grave difficulties in the Eurozone, and that involved security measures around the banks."

A series of questions were asked of the Taoiseach's office yesterday, but they went unanswered.

Those present at the meeting included Mr Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

All four were accompanied by their most senior officials.

Invited to join them that day was Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan.

Sources have confirmed that meeting was about contingency planning, should the Euro currency fall apart. It has also been confirmed that plans were considered as to how to replace the Euro with a new punt.

The Irish plan, which was kept secret from most members of the Cabinet, involved a number of key elements including: emergency legislation concerning the legal transfer of authority from the euro currency; ordering the closure of all high street banks and other financial institutions for at least three days in order to prevent an outflow of monies, largely held electronically; a temporary suspension of the Dublin stock market to facilitate the transition from the euro; the roll-out of a new workable currency across the country.

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