Donohoe: Bank outage ‘extremely serious’ but didn’t damage Ireland’s reputation

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe (PA)
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe (PA) Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe (PA)

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the outage of Bank of Ireland services on Tuesday afternoon was “extremely serious and is of concern”.

His comments were made as Bank of Ireland moved to assure customers that their account balances should now be up to date.

An outage on Tuesday evening caused by what the bank said was a technical glitch resulted in customers not being able to check how much money was in their accounts or to transfer money.

But queues formed at ATMs in various locations as some people posted on social media to say that they could top up other banking apps or withdraw cash in larger amounts than what they believed was in their Bank of Ireland account.

The bank quickly moved to remind customers that any amounts withdrawn would appear in their accounts, and has advised anyone who is now in financial distress or overdrawn to contact them for advice.

Images and videos of lengthy queues at ATMs in Ireland have made international news, and the outage has prompted the Central Bank of Ireland to establish “a full account” of what happened.

Mr Donohoe, who is also president of the Eurogroup, said on Thursday that he does not believe international damage has been done to Ireland’s economic reputation in the wake of the episode.

Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Donohoe said being able to access banking services was an issue of trust.

He added: “It is the case that this is an issue that did attract a lot of coverage yesterday from, in particular, the business journalist community across the world, but I don’t believe that that as an issue is something that is in any way affecting our national reputation.

“We have three domestically based banks now that have seen a significant recovery in their value over the last number of years, which is due to the recovery of the Irish economy, due to changes they have made, and that is recognised by the global financial community.

“What happened yesterday is, of course, a really significant concern for Bank of Ireland, it has been recognised now by the Minister for Finance, but I don’t believe it is of the level that it is affecting the reputation and economic reputation of Ireland.”

He also said: “Customers being able to access their accounts, being able to make use of ATMs and Bank of Ireland apps are really, really important, not just for the functioning of businesses, and also to allow households to pay the bills, but also for the broader trust that we continue to have to rebuild in how customers see the banking system overall.

“So, what has happened in recent days is extremely serious and is of concern.”

He said the request from Minister for Finance Michael McGrath that the Central Bank carry out an evaluation into the issue was “appropriate and important”.

Mr McGrath said his officials had been in contact with Bank of Ireland and the Central Bank on the issue.

Bank of Ireland said on Twitter, now known as X, on Thursday: “Following our recent service disruption, all customer account balances should now be up to date.

“Any transactions that have not yet appeared will be updated as soon as possible today.”