Ireland woke up this morning to the news that the Asgard II had sunk off the French coast, fortunately without loss of life.
The sail training brigantine, commissioned in 1981 and built in Arklow, was a traditional sailing ship owned by the Irish State, but despite popular misconceptions, it was not a naval vessel.
Instead, it was operated by Coiste an Asgard, a committee set up in 1968 to manage the original Asgard, and effectively under the oversight of the minister for defence.
The current minister, Willie O’Dea, was initially unable to say whether there would be an Asgard III or a salvage operation was possible, but he did assure the country that the ship ‘was well insured’.
Later, he confirmed that the cost of raising the ship from 100m of water would be prohibitively expensive.
Without realising it, Willie may have inadvertently stumbled on a way for the government to navigate the ship of state out of the stormy waters it finds itself in as the public finances take on water.
The Asgard isn’t the only national treasure in State hands, after all.
A judicious fire or two in some of the lesser state buildings, and bob’s your uncle.