THERE hasn't been too many of them lately but yesterday was a good day for the Government – a very good day. After a demoralising past few months, Fine Gael and Labour TDs will return home for the weekend with a pep in their step.
The deal replacing the infamous promissory note with long-term government bonds will have its critics. The 'tell the ECB to get stuffed' default argument is seductive (if utterly simplistic).
But the Government can credibly argue that it got the best possible deal in the circumstances. It can point to the immediate improvement in the State's budgetary position; the €20bn reduction in its borrowing requirement over the next decade; and the removal of the 'stain of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide from the national landscape'.
Michael Noonan deserves the plaudits for keeping his head when many around him seemed to be losing theirs. Labour can legitimately argue that its 'bad-cop' routine helped build the pressure on the ECB to do the right thing.
It wasn't always clear that the Coalition was particularly co-ordinated in its approach. But that no longer matters. To the victor the political spoils. The Government's brinkmanship – not least in pressing ahead with the liquidation of IBRC on Wednesday night without a guarantee of ECB approval for a deal – ultimately paid off.
Politically, the stakes couldn't have been higher – the credibility and long-term survival of the Coalition hung on the outcome of the prom-note negotiations. It wasn't surprising so that Fine Gael and Labour TDs were cock-a-hoop in the Dail listening to Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore yesterday.
But the sense of triumphalism was overdone. Particularly, the scorn heaped on Micheal Martin for stating the indisputable fact that Mario Draghi was a major factor in securing a deal. It suggested that government TDs were either getting too carried away with their achievement or that they fail to understand what's actually going on in Europe – or both.
After the pressure of recent months, coalition TDs deserved to enjoy their day in the sun. But there remains a long, hard road ahead.
The deal gives the Government greater control of its destiny. It makes it far more likely the State will emerge from the bailout later this year. It's also hugely important in demonstrating to the public that the pain endured can yield results. Or as Enda Kenny put it, the more Ireland helps itself, the more others will be prepared to help Ireland.
But it's not a panacea for our woes or even close to it. There is still at least another €5.2bn in savings to be made in the next two budgets. That will be difficult.
Other challenges lie ahead. The case for reform in the public sector and in social welfare is overwhelming. The problem of long-term unemployment needs something far more radical than special cabinet meetings. Our banking system is still not performing as it should and personal debt remains a massive issue.
The Coalition has been far too timid on all those issues.
The question for it now is does it rest on its laurels after securing a deal many predicted wouldn't happen? Or does it use the momentum it has gained to aggressively tackle the many problems the State still faces?
We all should hope and demand that it is the latter.
Shane Coleman is political editor of Newstalk 106-108FM