AFTER a year in which we finally saw the economy recover slightly, it is hard to begrudge the civil servants in the Department of Finance a little bit of downtime, even if some might say they helped land us in the mess in the first place.
Nonetheless, the mandarins and bean counters responsible for the country's finances have set-up a social club so overworked staff can learn to crochet, play tag rugby and attend events in the National Concert Hall.
The club, which is a little more than a year old, has so far not received any taxpayer funding.
However, in December, senior officials from the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform pledged to give the club €1,000 towards running future events.
The topic was even discussed at the department's bi-monthly management advisory council meeting.
The social club organises soccer and tag rugby teams, along with a number of other outdoor pursuits, and is very popular among staff members.
There is also a crotchet and knitting club and a book club open to staff which the Department says aims to "bring people together in settings that they might not ordinarily see each other in".
It was set up by younger departmental staff and is run on a voluntary basis on their own time. Around 30 people have contributed to events held in the past year.
All members pay the same amount as the organisers and contributions are based on the event being held.
The social club also holds charity events and, in the past year, club members raised almost €5,000 for various organisations through table quizzes and cakes sales.
The most recent fundraiser - a Christmas Eve Santa's grotto for staff members' children - raised €529 for the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation.
The club also raised more than €2,050 for MS Ireland, €1,200 for Alzheimer Society of Ireland and €1,076 for the Irish Hospice Foundation.
The Department said it was important to note the club "to date have received zero cash contribution" from the taxpayer. However, it confirmed a €1,000 contribution has been pledged by Department for the coming year.
A spokesman said: "Since its inception, the pooling of effort has meant that the social club was able to offer a broader range of after-hours social outlets to staff at their own cost and has proven to be a bit of a success story with staff.
"Management in both departments recognised this work and have offered to contribute to the social club's work by making donations to the organisation of events."