The amnesty gives a period of one week for people to return the money to Trócaire or their names will be published on the newly created Database of Bold Boys and Girls (DOBBAG).
The move comes ahead of Easter, a time when people all over Ireland make donations to Trócaire but when large numbers of people are known to “borrow” coins from the Trócaire box for sweets or bus fare. Announcing the move, Trócaire Box Security Officer Pat MacBosca said the charity knows who owes money and will have no hesitation in publishing its DOBBAG unless monies are returned.
“People think we don’t know about the 50p they took out of the box in 1993 but we do,” he said. “We have compiled a detailed list of offenders based on whose eyes fill with guilt every time they see a Trócaire box. People like Sarah McCourt in Castlemitchell or Ruari Jones in Dromore think they’ve got away it, but we notice how every time they see a box they stare at their shoes. It’s time to pay up.”
Huge sums of money are believed to be “borrowed” from Trócaire each year. While offenders often promise to replace the coins they have taken, an anonymous survey last year found that 98% of sweets and bus fare money never found its way to the charity.
“There is a huge amount of guilt being carried around because of this,” said MacBosca. “For example, Tom O’Neill in Bantry took 35p from a Trócaire box in 1987 to buy football stickers and to this day he can’t look at a water well without beginning to shake uncontrollably. It’s been eating him up inside for 34 years. What makes it worse is that he didn’t get any of the stickers he needed in that packet. So much guilt for nothing.”
MacBosca urged people who had taken money out of Trócaire boxes over the years to visit trocaire.org urgently to repay the stolen sums.
“This is an opportunity for all you bold boys and girls to do the right thing,” he said. “It takes less than one minute to make a donation and wipe away all those years of guilt.”
MacBosca noted that 50p in 1993 is equal to €5 in today’s money. He added that he had no scientific basis for making that calculation but that “it sounds about right”.The amnesty was launched on April 1st and will be valid for one week.