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Sinead Ryan: We're funding O Searcaigh -- as we struggle

'Lily-livered' is the only word to describe the 29 sitting councillors in Donegal for failing to show up at the opening of a taxpayer-funded artists' retreat which cost €260,000.

You'd imagine they'd be vying for space in papers, only too delighted to be associated with major Government spending.

And yet after agreeing to fund the thing with our money, they stayed away from the opening.

The reason? Well, the 'retreat' is actually no more than a house extension granted to poet Cathal O Searcaigh -- who has admitted to having sex with teenage boys in Nepal.


The poet -- a favourite of other teenagers too, such as those studying his poetry for their Leaving Cert -- is going to be let live in the adjoining house rent-free for life after Donegal council, along with the Arts Council, made the generous grant available.

Will you be taking your teenage kids there for a summer visit?

Dismissing the absences, O Searcaigh said yesterday, as he accepted the generosity of taxpayers: "It is very easy to start a controversy about someone. You can edit anything to suit you."

Don't have to, Cathal. You did that yourself.

The documentary, as everyone will remember, focused on the poet's frequent visits to Nepal, a tragically poor country, his fondness for young boys and the gifts and money he gave them.

The council claims the deal over the house was reached before the documentary was broadcast -- as if in some way that exonerates them.

But how many important things -- like schools, roads and hospitals have had their funding pulled long after 'agreements' were given to them.


How many carers, SNAs and librarians lost their jobs after 'guarantees' were granted? That was due to lack of money, of course, rather than morals.

No such problem in Donegal -- on either count, it would seem.

So while O Searcaigh is free to spend his money on more trips to Nepal rather than a mortgage like the rest of us, take solace and joy in the notion that you, dear taxpayer, are helping him.