Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thou shalt not double your money (Commandment 8a)

It’s the kind of thing you read about in a list of urban myths. But it doesn’t happen in real life. Unless you live in Belfast.

Queues formed this week at a Bank of Ireland cash machine at the Kennedy Centre in West Belfast which was paying out double the money requested. reports that “despite the fact that the shopping centre was closed, traffic chaos quickly ensued as local people drove to the shopping centre to withdraw cash.”

The same malfunction was experienced by a Bank of Ireland ATM in Belfast city centre on May 15.

In an interview with the BBC, Father Martin Magill reminded his parishioners about the eight commandment (“Thou shalt not steal”) and the Catholic Church’s catechism which covers the “deliberate retention of good lent or objects lost”.

Countering suggestions that the local banks had a reputation for ripping off their customers, Father Magill explained “we need to draw the line somewhere. I recognise we don’t live in a black and white world, but, at times, I think there are some moral absolutes.” He added, “I hope those who have gone down and taken money will think about it, will reflect on it and will, in the clear, cool light of day, decide to return it.”

To add to the weight of the eighth commandment, the Bank of Ireland reminded customers that ATM transactions are traceable … and I suspect that customers who have kept their bonus cash may be contacted by their banks in due course.

Father Magill is no stranger to press headlines. Back in May 2004, he teamed up with other local clergy to run the Belfast Marathon in a cross-community relay team. And more recently in October 2005, St Oliver Plunkett’s Chapel was showcased as the first church in Northern Ireland to fit solar panels.

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