LAGARDE -- douze points! Finance Minister Michael Noonan assumed Derek Mooney's 'Eurovision' role yesterday when he all but gave Ireland's highest marks to his French counterpart Christine Lagarde for the top job at the IMF.
Mr Noonan was allocating support for the latest big European gig -- the contest to be the continent's anointed one for the IMF managing director position. Even though the IMF is an international organisation, the post has always gone to a European, and, despite protests from developing countries like Brazil, India and Russia, it looks set to stay in Europe, with China also tipped to back Ms Lagarde.
Although he described Ms Lagarde -- who he met in Paris yesterday -- as an "excellent candidate", Mr Noonan said the Government had yet to make a formal decision on who to back.
Despite this, Mr Noonan insisted there'll be no bloc voting, a la Eurovision stitch-ups.
"The Irish Government's position is that rather than deciding candidates for positions like this on the basis of what region of the world they come from, they should be decided on the basis of the qualities of the candidate and whether they're capable of doing the job or not."
Obviously the memo didn't go to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
"From a general point of view, I'd like to think there would be a European in charge of the IMF," the Taoiseach said in Kildare yesterday.
Ms Lagarde has been pushing for Ireland to raise its 12.5pc corporation tax rate, but Mr Noonan said if she went to the IMF, she would be aware of the needs of American companies.
"No matter how strong the demand is on us, we can make no concession on the rate of corporation tax," he said. "The Irish like the French and the French like the Irish and we would hate if there was any tension that would disrupt that relationship," he added.
Just as well we're giving Ms Lagarde the douze points then.