The Governor of the Central Bank, John Hurley, has said that Irish financial institutions as very strong, well capitalised and highly profitable, and said he does not see a Northern Rock type situation arising in Ireland.

Speaking at a meeting of finance ministers and Central Bank chiefs in Portugal, Mr Hurley said Irish institutions had very little exposure to the US sub prime sector.

Customers of the mortgage lender Northern Rock have withdrawn an estimated £1bn from its branches in Britain following concerns over its emergency loan from the Bank of England.

Police had to be called to help control anxious crowds of Northern Rock savers intent on emptying their accounts.

Despite numerous assurances and pleas for calm, customers lined up outside branches across Britain for a second day in a bid to withdraw their money from the beleaguered bank.

Northern Rock agreed to extend opening hours until 2pm to accommodate the crowds and vowed to open early on Monday, when further queues are expected.

Yesterday Irish customers waited in line for up to two hours at Northern Rock's Dublin office to take their money out.

The bank has around 25,000 customers in Ireland.

Local representatives of the bank here say that the €2.4bn of Irish customers' money is secure.

This morning, Northern Rock said it has not yet had to borrow the money granted by the Bank of England as an emergency lending facility.

The bank has struggled to raise money to finance its lending ever since money markets seized up over the summer.

Northern Rock has issued two helpline numbers for customers who wish to contact them. 1850 315115 is open from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday, 8pm-4pm on Saturday and 10am-3pm on Sunday. 01 6020324 operates from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

The Financial Regulator has also set up a helpline at 1890 777 777.

A statement from EU finance ministers says European economic fundamentals are sound, and that the financial institutions can weather the current financial market volatility.