Sunday 17 December 2017

Budget iSpy: Tombstone Noonan brings good news for old lorry-driving boozers

Kim Bielenberg

As he stood up in the Dáil to deliver his speech, Michael Noonan had the demeanour of a man who seems more suited to bringing us austerity than throwing around cash with abandon.

He is more natural as a Minister for Hardship, donning the hairshirt as a cold wind swirls around him. His tombstone delivery of good news in the chamber was a touch out of place.

Nevertheless, the speech had the odd hoary phrase that could come back to haunt younger Blueshirts in his ranks when he has gone. Noonan said: “This Government has consigned to the history books the days of boom and bust.”

That reminded us of our old pal Gordon Brown, who promised in 2007 as UK Chancellor: “We will never return to the old boom and bust.”

That was just before a spectacular crash.

Old boozers’ cheer

Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin on the steps of Government Buildings yesterday. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Finance Minister Michael Noonan speaks at a press briefing in Government Buildings yesterday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Employment Minister Ged Nash sign the Minimum Wage into law yesterday. Photo Sam Boal
Environment Minister Alan Kelly speaking at his Budget press briefing at Government Buildings. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Click to view full size graphic
Click to view full size graphic
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, and Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, deliver the Budget on the steps of Government Buildings

This was a Budget that seemed designed for the old boozer, who has just given up the smokes, drives a lorry, and is fed up with looking after the grandchildren.

He will receive a few hundred quid between the pension hike, the Christmas bonus and increase in fuel allowances.

And if he has a big truck, his motor tax has plummeted. For once, there isn’t a hike in the price of drink, and because of the free pre-school year for children, he can sit by the fire with a stiff brandy without being bothered.

Before the Budget proceedings had even begun, Minister Simon Harris put himself forward as the Comical Ali of Fine Gael on RTÉ Radio when he suggested: “This is not an election budget.”

It was the biggest pre-election budget spending spree since the glorious Charlie McCreevy era. But will the electorate be grateful?

As at least one passer-by noted, it was not a great sign for this Government that gardaí had to erect crash barriers outside Leinster House yesterday to protect the political class – even when Noonan and Howlin were giving money away.

See you in Coppers

Full marks to the Department of Finance for political correctness as it unveiled case studies of families and how they will be affected in the Budget.

With a nod to the recent referendum, there was married couple Claire and Michelle: “Claire is self-employed. Michelle is a sales representative.”

And then were Niall and Chloe: “Niall is a nurse. Chloe is a garda.”

The occupations of this last couple inevitably led to speculation that they must have met in Coppers.

Breeding a new Paulie

Despite all the hype, Budget 2016 was less popular on social media yesterday morning than concerns about injured rugby hero Paul O’Connell.

Gavan Reilly of Today FM summed up the mood when he suggested: “Is there any space left in #budget16 for genetic research to breed a replacement Paul O’Connell?” Michael Noonan shouldn’t rule it out.


÷ There were no shortage of companies seeking to piggyback on the Budget for promotions.

Ryanair suggested: “With more money in your pocket from #Budget16, here are 10 things for under €10 in Budapest.”

It included a visit to the Hungarian capital’s House of Terror, featuring a Nazi prison and Soviet torture chamber.

Oh, the joys of recovery.

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