Friday, 13 January 2012

Money bags O’Dowd

HE’S the man who seems to have pockets that runneth with gold, the rich uncle who pleads poverty, before producing a nice shiny pound for Little Timmy come Christmas, he is the one, the only Mr O’Dowd.

Yep – not too long ago, Education Minister John O’Dowd was looming large, not just because of his size, but because his shadow was being cast over school budgets, an axe poised over his shoulder ready to oversee staff cuts and school closures.

But, just this week Moneybags O’Dowd has produced £120m extra from his departmental pockets.

Where did this come from? Well that nice Finance and Personnel Minister Sammy ‘Smiler’ Wilson came up with some extra pennies from the ‘January Monitoring Round’. This is the quarterly bit of Government business when those departments who have not spent all their money have to give it back, leading to all the other departments clamouring for the extra dosh.

So, after all that money was found for Mr O’Dowd, and there was much back-slapping around the DUP/Sinn Féin part of the Executive.

But, do take a wee bit of time to log on to the Department of Education’s website to read the press release announcing the extra £120m. After the first paragraph it does not refer to it as £120m. Rather it refers to it as £30m/£15m/£75m. Why? Is this an arcane piece of Government accounting? Is it to please the ever present auditors?

We’d ask the questions, but frankly we don’t care! We’re still waiting for the NIMBY clamour of MLAs when they learn that their neighbouring school is still going to close because there are 15 pupils and seven teachers on a two acre site…

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