IT was a “scattergun” approach targeting lots of small areas unlikely to rebound on the Government, one commentator told The Right Hook this evening and that was certainly borne out in the reaction across the airwaves to this year’s budget.
On RTE’s Drivetime they thought the bereavement grant might come back to haunt them, while speaking on Today FM’s The Last Word Dr Stephen Kinsella accused the Government of using “carrots and sticks” to force young people into education or emigrating.
Newstalk’s George Hook got momentarily excited when economist Jim Power discovered that the pension levy wasn’t going away just yet. By the time Drivetime's Mary Wilson started talking about “hangover taxes” you found yourself wondering if the 10 cent hike on the pint was going to be followed by the cruellest levy of all.
With Labour representatives sparse on the ground it was up to Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte to go on RTE television and denounce the media for trying to poke holes in the Government’s plans.
“The constant stream of negativity that one has to listen to from seven in the morning is not contributing to the recovery that this country has now embarked on," he told Bryan Dobson sniffily.
Mind you the media got off lightly. Minutes earlier he had accused Fianna Fáil of doing “more damage to this country than Cromwell”.
If the post-speech coverage was scattergun, the morning was spent in a fog of disinterest. This year more than any other, broadcasters had the wind taken from their sails by extensive leaks to newspapers.There was nothing left to speculate on because Budget 2014 was a foregone conclusion.
With all signs pointing to a rough day for the pensioners, the focus remained on them throughout. Over on Newstalk Pat Kenny wondered whether we would be seeing a repeat of 2008’s protests only to be shot down by SIPTU economist Marie Sherlock warning against an “over-reaction” to the proposed measures. A couple of hours later and Irish Senior Citizen’s parliament member Joan Bennett was telling his colleague Jonathan Healy that if it all panned out as suggested, the pensioners “would have to protest”.
Over on RTE Radio One, Today with Sean O’Rourke dispatched misery correspondent Paddy O’Gorman to a car boot sale where he found plenty of people worried about the price of packet noodles and reporter Brian O’Connell followed up with a report about the impact of fuel allowance cuts on the elderly.
And all morning we heard the same clip of an extremely breathless Enda Kenny addressing reporters as he entered Government buildings sounding very much like he had tried to outrun the waiting pack. Tough decisions were made, he said, but we can move forward now.