Friday 23 February 2018

Mick's Budget provokes plenty of unhealthy debate

It wasn't so much a soundbite as a soundnibble. "I want Ireland to play fair," declared Michael Noonan in his Budget speech, "and I want Ireland to play to win." Make up your mind, minister. Which is it? Because if there's one thing we've learned at this stage, it's that you can't have both.

The main points of Mick's cunning plan were that the under-fives would get free GP visits while the elderly would have their medical cards taken away, suggesting the Government's long term aim for economic growth is to keep the young healthy so they can be sold for a profit later while saving cash by encouraging pensioners to die quicker.

The opposition certainly wasn't impressed. SF's Pearse Doherty said the Budget "pitted grandparent against grandchild", which sounded like a good idea for a game show; while FF's Michael McGrath seized on the axing of the funeral grant to declare: "Even the dead aren't safe." It gives a whole new meaning to the term "zombie banks".

On TV, meanwhile, experts batted figures back and forth like it was the fiscal equivalent of a Wimbledon final, while viewers wondered if they'd sat through enough by now and could turn over to Countdown. For most, the big news was that wine's gone up again, meaning that, for every €10 Chardonnay, over half now goes straight to the Exchequer.

And if there's anything which can suck the enjoyment right out of a well-deserved tipple at the end of a working week, that is surely it.

Eilis O'Hanlon

Sunday Independent

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