Dáil Éireann - Volume 548 - 19 February, 2002

Other Questions. - Euro Changeover.

  50. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Finance if any changeover transactions concerning the punt and euro gave him cause for concern, or were brought to his attention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5600/02]

  Mr. McCreevy: The changeover to the euro was completed smoothly and efficiently and transactions during it were neither brought to my attention nor gave me cause for concern. The smooth changeover was facilitated by the extensive preparations undertaken beforehand. The extensive public awareness campaign by the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland and the business awareness campaign run by Forfás ensured both the public and business sector were well prepared. The frontloading of euro cash by the Central Bank to banks and the sub-frontloading of retailers ensured notes and coins were widely available for the transaction of business in euro from 1 January 2002. Starter packs of euro coins [1143] were put on sale to the public from 14 December 2001.

  The cash changeover plan, drawn up by the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland in conjunction with the key changeover organisations, was implemented efficiently from 1 January. On that day accounts with financial institutions were converted to euro and ATM machines began dispensing euro notes. Some 85% were dispensing in euro by 6 p.m. Retailers who opened on that day systematically gave change in euro only or, in some cases, provided exchange facilities to enable transactions only in euro at the tills. From 2 January euro cash became even more widely available through exchange and withdrawals from financial institutions, social welfare cash payments in euro and change giving by retailers generally. By the end of the first weekend the bulk of cash transactions were taking place in euro and the changeover was virtually complete within a week. Legal tender status was withdrawn from Irish pound notes and coins at midnight on 9 February, bringing the dual circulation period to an end.