Thursday, May 15, 2008

We're All Grand

Ministers of Finance deal with such huge sums of money on a daily basis that it's no wonder one particular minister wouldn't take note of the piddling change in his own accounts.

The Mahon Tribunal continues to explore Bertie Ahern's tangled finances, focusing now on the money that went towards St. Luke's and the Cumann O'Donovan Rossa. Who better to ask about finances than Fianna Fail's treasurer?

How much money was in the three accounts associated with the constituency and the cumann? Well, how much is "grand"? Liam Cooper kept tabs on one account and asked after the other two which he didn't have control over. He'd ask Tim Collins or Joe Burke, trustees of the accounts, what the bottom line was, and they'd assure him it was grand. It's all there yet, they'd say, it's grand. Sure it's grand, Mr. Cooper would reply, but how does one insert "grand" into an income statement?

Money in envelopes, sterling and Irish pounds, exchanged back and forth like so many pieces of colored paper....Judge Mahon finds it a bit odd, not quite the normal way of doing business. For trustee Joe Burke, it's business as usual. Twenty thousand in a safe, getting transformed into sterling and back again, why, what's so unusual about all that? It's a matter of perspective, isn't it?

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