Colette Fitzpatrick: Fingers' €11k watch has me wound up

Colette Fitzpatrick

IT'S time, Michael. Time to check that fancy pants, tax- free, blingtastic watch on your wrist. Time to realise that time is up on accepting that a retirement gift worth €11,500 comes anywhere under the umbrella of suitable retirement pressies.

Correction. The total bill for Fingers' send-off gift was more than €21,000 after benefit-in-kind tax paid to the Revenue. Who, why, how, where on earth would that sort of money be deemed appropriate as a retirement gift?It gives you an insight into the sheer brass-necked, culture that the Nationwide institution was festering in.

Look at the timeline, no pun intended. Michael Fingleton presided over a disastrous and reckless lending policy at the institution. It lost €2.4bn in 2009. He left at the end of April that year. The watch was bought earlier in the month. The previous year, 2008, Mr Fingleton was given a controversial bonus worth €600,000, after the bank was bailed out by you and me; the taxpayer.

So someone thought it was fair enough to go on a spending spree in Paul Sheeran's when austerity budgets meant less money for those most in need.

Who had that little brainwave? Six months after the bank was rescued by you and me, someone, somewhere, signed off on a luxury watch that even a wealthy rapper might think was over the top.

He has yet to honour his pledge to return his tidy bonus. Really though, what chance is there of Fingers returning a watch worth a mere €11,500 if he hasn't returned that handout?

The Celtic Tiger is now a mangey moggy. Michael was at the helm of an institution partly to blame for it all turning sour. You're a disgrace Michael and needed a slap on the wrist, not a luxury watch.

It would not have wound us up so much.

Dana may turn race to Aras into a celebrity reality show. Great. Just what we need

A FAILED previous presidential bid, opposition to abortion, divorce and contraception, the Eurovision song contest, a judge on a reality TV show: all kinds of everything remind me of you, Dana.

The prospect of the one-time warbler turned Christian candidate entering the presidential race again has hardly frightened the campaign horses of Mary Davis and Michael D.


In fact they're probably rubbing their hands together. Though Gay Mitchell's people might be getting a little hot under the collar with the prospect of his potential votes going to Dana. (He's a member of the European Catholic group Dignitatis Humanae Institute and defended an Italian MEP's remarks when he referred to homosexuality as a sin).

It's a strange one now, however, given the timing. Surely Dana cannot expect to pick up the votes of erstwhile liberal David Norris supporters. They're likely curled up at home crying at the thought that someone they regard as a creeping Jesus or rather a fully fledged, walking, talking Catholic Conservative might get on the ballot paper. And there can hardly be a groundswell of support for the Church in this country right now, post-Cloyne Report.


Where would she get her nominations? I can't see the likes of TDs Luke Ming Flanagan and Richard Boyd Barrett throwing their weight behind someone who's campaigned on such a Conservative platform.

There is a Facebook page called Dana for President. At the time of writing there are just 58 online fans. The founder says he/she hopes the page "gains momentum and that we will see Dana on the ballad (sic) paper come October". An excellent malapropism. Or is the founder trying to remind us subliminally that at least she might hold a tune at official gigs in the Park.

Celebrity candidate? It's hard to define Dana. Yes, she's been a politician -- MEP for Connaught/Ulster from 1999 to 2004. And she clocked up 14pc of the vote during that failed previous run at the Aras.

These days Dana is better known for telling little chaps and lassies from rural parts of the country how delightful their voices are. Dignity is something most of us want from our president, Dana. Is taking part in reality talent TV shows worthy of the role of future president? You've got to admire her self-belief, though. She hasn't been put off by the country saying 'no' to her previous bid.

Maybe she took David Norris's speech to heart. The senator quoted Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Sean Gallagher and now Dana? Celeb Big Brother move over. There's a TV3 show in this race. "I'm a celebrity candidate, get me to the Aras."