Sinn Fein haven't explained yet how they would balance the books with wealth tax
The Government faces an acute communication problem which the opposition will have no trouble exploiting. After excessively trumpeting their own success in exiting the funded portion of the EU/IMF adjustment programme, the Government had begun to slip in its focus even before the last Budget.
The last six months have seen momentum-sapping scandal after momentum-sapping scandal. Now the Government has to deliver another Budget potentially laced with austerity to a public it itself has primed for no more cuts. Solving this problem will take the kind of skill we haven't yet seen from the government partners, as in the past the troika and Fianna Fail could be blamed for everything.
Labour's recent electoral drubbing and the ensuing leadership race has somewhat overshadowed the rise of Sinn Fein and the Independents as serious political forces at local level. Irish politics being what it is, the local city and county councils will provide a series of petri dishes for how our national politics may be reshaped after the next election. We will get to see just how the new councillors deal with real policy issues at the local level, and that will be instructive.