Tis a fine state to be in

Hello Mrs Murphy. Cold out, isn’t it?

— Tis, tis, shockin, shockin

— Tis, to be sure.

— What can I be getting ya Mr Varley?

— The milk, Mrs Murphy, the milk and some rashers...and maybe a loafeen of bread. Yes, the white one that swells the belly..

— Would that be all, Mr Varley?

— Well, spose so, Mrs Murphy, but I might trouble ya for something else.

— You’re very shady Mr Varley. Shadier that you normally are and that’s shady enough. Are ya trying to find the courage to buy one of those inflatable dolls that I do be having out the back with the calf nuts, the shovels and the bacon?

— No Mrs Murphy, no not another one of them.

—Well what is it that does be troublin ya so?

— Ya see, Mrs Murphy, I see you’re taking payment for fines as well here now. So can you throw €50 on there for me on the unlicensed dog one, €50 on the drunk and disorderly one, €50 on the unlicensed dog being drunk and disorderly, and €100 on the fine under the Unlawful Accommodation of Donkeys Act 1837. That last one is a long story.”

— No problems, do ya want a bag for that.

As you can see from our front page story, from next year when we go to the shops to get our groceries, the equivalent of Mrs Murphy will be grinning at you as she tots up your bill, asking you do you want any cash back and leaning over and saying ‘I see you’ve been at that auld flashing again, Mr V. I can see here on your shopping list that you’ve a fine to pay. Tut Tut.”

“Well, I was lonely and people told me to get out and meet people, Mrs Murphy.”

There was a time when if you were caught doing anything dodgy you had to don an ill-fitting suit, get the hair cut, shave, and then go into court where your new clobber would convince the judge you were of upstanding character - as if wearing a suit precluded you from committing crime in this country.

Every rural courthouse in the country is required to have at least five retail outlets where you can pay your fines along with your groceries and petrol fills. You can even get a loyalty card where if you have a bucket load of previous convictions ( as opposed to pervious ones ), you amass points to be used against fines for any future crimes.

All you have to do then is keep the receipt so that if you’re arrested you can tell the guards that you’d overpaid the last time and that you’re due a bit of free criminality. Supermarkets who advertise with us will be able to claim “This week, we have 50 per cent discount on all fines. “Steal your neighbour’s dog. Was €200. Now €100.” Steal Your Neighbour’s wife. Was €400. Now €100 with a free case of Bulmers.”

And there will also be a bit of the never never with this new scheme. If you couldn’t be arsed to pay the full fine in one go, you can spread it out in instalments like a car loan. The logic of the proposal is that it is hoped that it will reduce the number of people who are jailed each year for not paying fines. By making it easier to pay fines aa convenient location, the jail cells will be freed up for proper criminals from the bigger cities who deserve jail more.

The upshot of it all, is that it’s gonna making that shopping queues all the more interesting.

“Now, Mrs Murphy, let me explain that donkey one...”

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