Monday 24 October 2016

Budget? What Budget?

Brendan O'Connor

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Damien Eagers
Finance Minister Michael Noonan Photo: Damien Eagers

Confusion surrounded the Budget last night as the Government played it down to the point where it became invisible to the naked eye. "There may be no Budget at all," said one senior government source. "Noonan doesn't get out of bed for less than a billion - not that he's tired or anything - and this is less than a billion. But we really don't want to raise anyone's expectations about absolutely anything. So we might just not bother. The problem is Paschal Donohoe is on a bit of a high and says he's been rehearsing for months at The Billie Barry school, and he wants his moment in the sun. Not that he wants to be leader or has any ambition at all. But we might just let him say a few words."

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There was confusion, too, about what exactly will be included in the non-existent Budget. While Katherine Zappone was said to be working on a childcare package for the lower paid, it apparently turned out that everyone else was working behind her back on an alternative package that involved Katherine minding all the children.

"The Taoiseach has made it quite clear that Budget plans are men's work, and if any of the women dare try to poke their noses into it, he will humiliate them publicly," said a source. "He says Mary Mitchell-O'Connor should be an example to them all. He's says he understands that he had to put a few in the Cabinet, what with it being all about women these days, but he says they should know their place."

There is also confusion as to who is responsible for various measures within the non-existent Budget. Leo Varadkar and Willie O'Dea were seen wrestling yesterday to get to a microphone to claim credit for the €5 on the old age pension. Leo has now apparently demanded that he be allowed to call around to all the old people in the country individually with the fiver. He has also looked for money in the Budget to buy pizza and beers for all the back benchers. He insists this is not because he is running for the leadership, but because they are nice guys - and girls. Enda has apparently said that if Leo wants pizzas the women should make them.

After the pension increase and the pizza, there won't be much Budget money left and it is thought that the rest of it will go on caving into public sector strikes. Having caved into the Luas drivers and bus drivers, the Government's strategy now is to cave into the Gardai next and then to cave into whoever else comes looking for money.

But the Government has insisted, too, that it has a plan to deal with the garda strikes. Members of the boy scouts will be drafted in to patrol the streets and the Government is going to ask everyone to behave themselves on the strike days. "We will be asking that persons thinking of committing a crime on those days would defer their activities to another day," said a spokesman last night.

Sunday Independent

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