SVP forgive Races student: 'We all make mistakes'

Simon Brouder

The Kerry branch of St Vincent de Paul has adopted a compassionate and magnanimous attitude towards a student whose online boast about using money from the charity to fund a trip to the Listowel Races prompted a severe online backlash.

This week it emerged that SVP cancelled a cheque that it had issued to a Kerry student after the young man posted a photo of the cheque along with a caption stating 'that's me sorted for the Listowel races' on social media.

A specially convened SVP education committee had granted the money - understood to be a few hundred Euros - to the student so he could pay his college admission fees.

While such grants are typically paid directly to the educational institution, in this case the emergency grant was given directly to the student as he had told the committee that he would lose his college place if he couldn't come up with the cash to pay the fees immediately.

A post was subsequently made on the man's Instagram page showing him posing with a pint and the cheque along with a comment about using the cheque to fund a trip to the racetrack.

The post prompted outrage online with several people contacting SVP and local media outlets to express their disgust.

SVP acted quickly and within half-an-hour of receiving the complaints they made contact with the young man and cancelled the cheque.

The student - who it is understood never even attended the race meeting - has since apologised unreservedly to the charity for his actions.

Though the cheque was cancelled, SVP will continue to assist the young man and he has still managed to secure his college place.

SVP South West Regional President Christy Lynch said that the incident stemmed from a moment of heedless 'bravado'.

"He's a young fellow and it was bravado. He did it without thinking and he's very sorry about what has happened," said Mr Lynch.

"We all make mistakes. He's learned his lesson and I'm sure he won't do it again," he said.

"He had a rush of blood to the head and was boasting. It was very silly mistake but it has been sorted out and, at the end of the day, nobody died," said Mr Lynch.

Mr Lynch said that the young man and his family are very upset about what has happened and had immediately apologised to the charity.

Mr Lynch has also apologised on behalf of SVP for any upset the issue had caused to the public and to supporters of the charity.

However, he said he still stands over the conference committee's decision, which, he said, was made in good faith.

"We have a system where we have an educational committee who decides who gets what and how much they get. The conference, at the time, made the decision that they made and gave him what he was looking for," he said.

"The good intentions were there by the conference, I stand behind them in that."

Mr Lynch said that it was the first time he had seen such a cheque issued and that steps will be taken to ensure there is no repeat of the incident.