The Rat Scheme

A parable for our times
It is not that long

Since Ireland was over-run by rats,
And the Government decided to set up

The Rat Scheme.
A reward of five pounds
Was offered
For every dead rat
Delivered to a police station.
This became known
As “the Rat Payment.”

After a slow start,
The scheme took off,
And the Gardai were busy
Recording and disposing of
Dead rats
And issuing Rat Payments.
The scheme was a huge success,
And, soon, the country
Was relatively free of rats.

The number of dead rats
Delivered to police stations
Fell off,
Except County Kerry,
Where it continued to expand.

It so happened
At that time
That Garda Noel Kiljoy,
Of Clonsharp Garda Station, Dublin,
Gave a traffic ticket
To Holly Barney,
A junior Government Minister,
And was transferred to Tralee.
On his first day
In Tralee,
Garda Kiljoy noticed
That the Kerry rats
Were sleek and fat
Compared to the scrawny
Dublin rats.
A suspicious thought

Formed in his brain.

He examined the books of record

Relating to Rat Payments,

And found a large number

Of dead rats

Credited to Farmer Tom Ratchit

And, also, to members of his family.

He cycled round the County
To all the Kerry Stations,
And found a similar large bounty
Was collected by
Particular family groups
In all the stations.

He snooped around the Ratchit farm,
And discovered
That Farmer Ratchit
Was not catching wild rats,
But breeding tame rats
For the scheme.
Formerly used for cows
Now contained rows and rows
Of cages
Where rats were bred and reared.

Garda Kiljoy

Suggested to his colleagues
That all rat deliveries
To the station
Be referred to him,
A request that the others
Lazily conceded.
Next time Farmer Ratchit
Appeared in the Station
With a dead rat,
He was processed by Kiljoy.

Garda Kiljoy examined the rat carefully,
And carried it to the other room,
Out of sight,
As if submitting it to examination,
And, then, after some minutes,
Returning to the counter, said:
“This is not a wild rat;
“It is a farmed rat.”

“The Rat Scheme,”
Said Garda Kiljoy,
“Relates to Wild Rats only.
Therefore,” he said,
“I cannot give you any reward
For this rat,
Nor accept it for disposal by the Gardaí.
But, I must warn you

That this rat must be disposed of

In the proper manner

Under the

Disposal of Deceased Farm Animals


Farmer Ratchit was outraged.
He went to his political rep,
Deputy Farley,
To complain.

His mistake was that Farley
Was of the Opposition,
Not the Government Coalition.
The Deputy put down
A  Parliamentary Question
As to why a farmer
Was refused a Rat Payment
Despite delivering a dead rat
To a police station.
Garda Kiljoy
Had written his report.
His Sergeant added a comment
Distancing himself
From Kiljoy’s action,
But non-committal as to whether
It was warranted,
And passed the matter
Up the Line.

The Superintendent
Over Kerry gardaí
Noted the regulations
Did not say “wild rats,”
Just “dead rats.”
He reported to the Commissioner,
Recommending an amendment
Of the regulations.

When Deputy Farley

Got to pose his question

In the House,

The Minister replied:

“The Rat Regulations

Were designed for Wild Rats,

Not to promote Rat Farming.

I have now changed the regulations

By inserting the word ‘wild,’

And now lay the amended regulations
Before the House.”
There was uproar in the House.
The Kerry Deputies said
The amendment would take away
The livelihood of Rat Farmers
In the County.
“It is the emigrant ship
For honest Kerry farmers,
If this industry closes down,”
Said Deputy Farley.
The Minister was unrelenting.

Those Kerry Deputies

Who had supported the Government

Now withdrew support.
The government fell,
And a General Election was called.
Deputy Farley topped the poll
In Kerry
And became Minister for Justice.
“Wild” was removed
From the regulations,
And Garda Kiljoy was transferred
To Valencia island,
Where nothing ever happened
And he could do no more harm.
Rat Farming
Became Kerry’s number one industry
And continues so
To this very day.
The gardaí in Kerry

Are fully occupied

Issuing Rat Payments

And have no time for crime.
Income Tax was raised

To cover the expense.

In effect, the city dwellers

Fund the Kerry farmers

To pursue this folly.

And that’s the way it goes

With all Government Schemes.
The end.

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