Giving evidence at the banking inquiry at Leinster House today, former taoiseach Brian Cowen claims that a few years ago Ireland was looking a lot like Greece is now.

In fact, he says that in late September 2008, the banks were just days away from running out of cash completely – something which would have sent the country spiralling into chaos. 

"It was clear that all the banks were running out of cash," he told the hearing earlier today, saying the government then was looking at "days rather than weeks". 

"The issue was going to have to be addressed immediately," the former TD went on to say. "Anglo was running out of cash. We were heading into a very dangerous position."

He continued: "I was coming to the view that given what was potentially at stake, whatever we did would have to have an immediate and dramatic impact in stopping the outflow of funds from banks and indeed reversing the trend if possible."

In an opening statement, Mr Cowen said that allowing Anglo Irish Bank to simply go bust was never an option as that would have had "implications for the whole system".

He said he also feared there would be widespread panic, and a "run on other banks," as well as "irreparable damage to the economy".

Following crisis talks with the International Monetary Fund, on November 21, 2010 the Irish government formally applied for a bailout – and was given €440bn in emergency funds.