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EDITIONS
Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 14:40 GMT
Irish pound consigned to history
The last Irish punts are being shredded and dumped
The last Irish punts are being shredded and dumped
The Irish pound, the punt, ceased to exist as a working currency at midnight on Saturday.

Millions of punts are being destroyed at the top security printers where the euro notes are being printed.

They are being collected, shredded, pulverised and then turned into paper briquettes.

The Irish Central Bank estimates that 85% of all punts have now been through this process.
ATM withdrawals of euros have helped currency's fast introduction
ATM withdrawals of euros have helped currency's fast introduction

The briquettes, which were once worth IR£20,000 each were given to the poor as fuel in the past.

But the last punts in the system are being dumped on landfill sites.

Meanwhile, the National Museum at Collins Barracks in Dublin is showing an exhibition of old Irish notes and coins.

It has become a place of pilgrimage for those who are sad to see the birth of the euro and the death of the punt.

People visiting the exhibition had mixed views about the introduction of the euro.

One woman said: "I don't think I'll get used to it - I don't seem to know how much money I have in my purse!

Another added: "We miss it, you felt you had more money, there's too much small change."

However, another woman said: "I won't be shedding any tears for the punt as long as I have enough Euro to get along."

Philip Hamell:
Philip Hamell: "Euro cash has circulated quickly"

It is estimated that by the end of the first week of the new year more than 80% of all transactions were in euro.

Philip Hamell of the Irish Euro Changeover Board said: "Our social welfare system is paid weekly in cash in many cases and that gave us an immediate pump of euro cash into the economy.

"Also, Irish people go fairly frequently to the ATM machine."

Irish Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy said the changeover had gone smoothly.

"People just decided to adopt a practical approach, and the first week they just decided to get rid of all Irish money and deal in euro from then on to stop confusion," he said.

Anybody who has not yet changed their remaining punts into euro can still do so at a bank, although the punt is no longer legal tender in shops.

The euro was introduced to the Republic of Ireland an 11 other European Union countries on 1 January.

Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, has not adopted the currency.

However many businesses in areas bordering the Irish Republic - and in the cities of Belfast and Londonderry - have been accepting pounds sterling, punts and euros.


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