Patrick McLoughlin lost a dear friend several years ago, but he cherished the memory of Gerry Donnelly. He cherished Mr. Donnelly's pension checks as well.
100 years of age? You're in line for a Presidential award. The island nation is but 94-years-old, and having people around who witnessed the Easter Rising as children is of interest.
The proper government office in charge of honoring centenarians sent a social worker around to Mr. Donnelly's home, only to learn that the home had been sold in 1989. A bit of searching brought up Mr. Donnelly's death certificate, filed in 1984.
Yet the pension checks had been cashed for the past twenty-six years.
A simple sting operation by An Garda Siochana provided videotaped evidence of Mr. McLoughlin retrieving the pension check.
Once nabbed red-handed, he claimed that he'd stayed with Mr. Donnelly until the end, and then paid for his funeral. As compensation, Mr. Donnelly's son gave Mr. McLoughlin the deceased's pension book and told him to collect the pension checks to cover his costs.
It must have been one expensive funeral. The amount of the fraud is estimated at E136,000.
To his credit, Mr. McLoughlin lived a simple life, but he did enjoy a drink or two. Or E136,000 worth of drinks over the course of two decades.
While the Irish government scrambles to figure out how such a long-running scheme could have gone on without being noticed, Mr. McLoughlin has offered to reimburse An Post E40 per week by taking a deduction from his disability check.
It's cheaper in the long run than putting Mr. McLoughlin in jail. His wife is ill and he cares of her, but if he were locked up in the 'Joy, the State would have to foot the bill for her care in a nursing home.
At least they're making some attempt to rein in out of control spending.