YOU'D miss Ivan Yates, especially on Budget Day. Norah Casey, who now partners Chris Donoghue on the Newstalk breakfast show, is grand but she's not Ivan, and so yesterday there was none of the rude forthrightness or insider knowledge that Fine Gael's lost leader routinely brought to the studio table – and none of the mischief, either.
And Chris himself, who no longer has to rise to the bait of Ivan's constant slagging, seemed in subdued form. Or maybe that was just because, as Norah wearily observed, everyone was already suffering from "a tremendous amount of Budget fatigue" even though it was only 8.15am.
She confided that if she were a bit younger and less securely settled, her New Year resolutions "probably wouldn't involve staying in this country".
Over on Radio 1's Pat Kenny show, a woman in Athlone told roving reporter Paddy O'Gorman she was contemplating something even more drastic – a return to the life of thieving that had already earned her a couple of jail terms. "People will be back out robbing to keep their children fed," she warned Paddy.
Radical action of a more legal kind was being proposed on Joe Duffy's 'Lifeline'. "It's time we went out on the streets", a caller urged, adding that "they're doing it in every other country". Yes, but not in Ireland, where everyone just vents their rage to Joe instead. The Government should consider rewarding him for services rendered in the non-riotous releasing of steam.
On 'Leaders' Questions' (RTE1), Taoiseach Enda Kenny was assuring Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that "the poor and the lonely" got a fair deal. Gerry wasn't impressed and nor was he happy with Labour – deeming it a "disgrace" that these supposed socialists had tied themselves to a course of action "that would have James Connolly spinning in his grave".
And then, at 2.30pm, cameth the hour, cameth the man. It's a pity Finance Minister Michael Noonan is no longer Opposition spokesman, a role in which he used to revel on Budget Day, effortlessly reeling off witty, or at least sarcastic, soundbites. Here, though, the liveliest moment came just a few minutes into his speech when Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath shoutingly interrupted his droning flow.
Brendan Howlin got interrupted, too. "I'd appreciate if the comedians could just wait until the minister is finished, and then you can have your playtime," said Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett
Michael McGrath then delivered himself of a well-crafted and impassioned riposte that would have been more impressive at half its length, and he was followed by fellow Fianna Failer Sean Fleming, who at equal length and much less eloquently added nothing further.
And then everyone else got to say their tuppence worth. They were still at it after 6pm, thus encouraging all but masochists to switch off their TVs and go for a last pint at pre-Budget prices.