COLMlambert Like ‘Father Ted’ in reverse
READING the further revelations of FAS foolishness and frippery last week, a thought struck me: it’s a bit like Father Ted. But in reverse.
The Reverend Crilly of Craggy Island regulary protested that ‘the money was just resting in my account’ whenever there was a real or perceived question mark over his financial integrity.
So, he apparently had the money, but wasn’t spending it. The flip side of that is what the FAS boys were up to for years: spend loads of money that’s not your own, and then just put it down as expenses.
That’s bad enough, but what really brings the FAS debacle into Ted territory is the discovery of the car raffle that never was.
You may remember that Ted once tried to raffle off a Rover 200 to raise money to fix the roof of Craggy Island parochial house. Himself and Dougal ended up banjaxing the car though when they tried to fix a small dent by giving it a few gentle taps with a hammer - only to keep going until the whole thing was more battered than last week’s sausages in a bad takeaway. So Ted had to try fix the raffle for Dougal to win the car, but it didn’t go according to plan, Fr Jack ended up crashing the car anyway, and the three priests and Mrs Doyle had to endure a long winter of rain pouring in through the leaky roof.
But at least Ted actually had a car to try give away – not like the FAS lads, who came up with the idea of raffling a car and who paid over money for it, but who never actually got anything at all for it.
The fiasco happened around the time of the Opportunities 2000 exhibition in the RDS, and saw €9,200 being paid to some unnamed motor dealer for what should have been the prize. But nobody thought of getting a licence to hold a raffle, so no raffle ever took place, and nobody ever took delivery of a car, even though the money was never reclaimed. So there was a nice little windfall there for some car salesman who must surely have allowed himself another little smile at the memory of it when the revelation came out in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report last week.
Of course, there was much bigger wastage at FAS too, such as €600,000 on television adverts that were never aired and as much again on various goods and services which were never delivered, but they’re right out of Ted’s league. Still, it shows the inordinate amount of waste that took place during the boom times, never mind the expenses claimed by officials such as Greg Craig: over €400,000 in eight years, including nearly €50,000 in restaurants and bars in Dublin, New York, Brussels, Florida, Moscow and Warsaw; over €157,000 on flights, mainly first class, around the globe; and hotel bills of over €176,000.
Those expenses are right up there in Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue territory.
And mention of O’Donoghue brings us neatly back again to Father Ted.
Because both Ted and O’Donoghue are grey-haired chancers from somewhere out west. A right pair of cowboys.
‘The money was just resting in my account...’