Do you know the way that bastion of bigotry Richard Littlejohn, the ex-Sun now Daily Mail columnist, coined the catchphrase, “you couldn’t make it up”, about the crazy goings on in British society like, I don’t know, feeding the starving or trying to stop the homeless freezing to death? Well how about these little nuggets from Irish society, though rest assured seeing as they are about ordinary people being disproportionately treated by the law, I don’t think for one minute that Littlejohn would be likely to highlight them.
First up we have the father of six who was fraudulently claiming the dole. Using a false name he claimed over 14,000 euro that he wasn’t entitled to. Doesn’t sound like a particularly admirable character, does he? Although it should be noted that he did turn up in court with 1,500 euro as part reimbursement. The judge wasn’t impressed. I mean 14,000 euro is a lot of money to fiddle, isn’t it? What did he get? He got a year in jail. A year for 14,000 euro. I don’t know, what do you think, is that a ‘you couldn’t make it up’ story?
Or is this more of a ‘you couldn’t make it up’ story. Friend of developers, politicians and journalists, Michael Fingleton, ran an institution, Irish Nationwide that has so far cost the Irish state, the Irish taxpayer, the men, women and children of an entire country, 5.4 billion euro. In fact, Fingleton, even after the state bailed out his ‘private bank,’ gave himself a million euro bonus and when this saw him forced from office presented himself with a retirement gift of an 11,500 euro watch. Yes, a watch. A watch, only a few thousand less than the entire amount that saw the father of six dole fiddler sent down for a year. Michael Fingleton is not in jail. Michael Fingleton remains in a very luxurious house. Now, what do you think? Could you make that up? A year for fiddling 14,000 euro. Nothing for costing the state 5.4billioneuro, giving yourself a million euro bonus when you’re broke and then an 11,500euro watch when the game is up. Seriously, could you make that up?
Second up, we have the 132 people who were sent to jail in this state between March and December last year. In fact if we trace the graph of our economic collapse we can see that of these particular types of criminal, 31 were jailed in 2006, 32 in 2007, 54 in 2008 and 62 in 2009. Clearly the financial collapse has seen a clear upsurge in this type of criminal behaviour. So what do you think those 132 criminals did last year? What crime against society did they commit? And remember, I’m not making this up. Those 132 people last year went to jail, went to sleep in prison cells, because they hadn’t paid their television licences. Honestly, I am not making this up. I mean, you couldn’t make it up, could you? 132 Irish people in Irish jails because they hadn’t bought a licence in order to watch Fair City. You couldn’t make it up. After all, if you are going to make something up it has to be faintly believable.
I mean if you made that up and then said at the same time there were some other people who ran a bank called Anglo-Irish and that bank was going to cost an entire country somewhere in the region of 47 billion euro, was far and away the most costly fiscal fiddle in the whole history of the state, and yet that no one responsible would go to jail for that, well, whose going to believe you? What kind of story is that? Could you make that up?
C’mon, jail for watching the television without a licence but no jail time for 5.4 billion euro and a dodgy one million bonus? Who is going to believe that? Jail for fiddling 14,000 euro but no jail for 47 billion euro? No one is going to make that up. No one would ever believe it. It is quite clearly unbelievable. It is all upside down. It is as if you get sent to jail for stealing a little but not for stealing a lot. It is as if you went to jail for petty misdemeanours or petty crimes but walked free for grand larceny. No, you just couldn’t make it up. In fact, that is just it. Ireland 2012. You just couldn’t make it up.
Photo source: Guardian story about Michael Fingleton’s watch.
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