It's bye, bye Merc and hello 'momo' for Lenihan
HE arrived for the public flogging -- not in his ministerial chariot, but a funky Ford Mondeo.
In a sign of things to come, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan turned up for the traditional post-Budget grilling on RTE radio's 'Today with Pat Kenny' yesterday morning in a new momo (modest motor).
And -- shock, horror -- the car is six years old.
Since the Government wants us all to adjust to a standard of living last seen in the middle of the last decade, Mr Lenihan seems to be leading by example -- and trading down.
He announced in his Budget on Tuesday that ministers and former office holders will be pooling cars, and that all new state cars will have a maximum engine size of two litres.
So bye bye Mercedes, hello momo.
We hear the Greens, never ones to shy away from leadership, have traded their ministerial bicycles in for tricycles, which are much more cost-effective.
And, in the spirit of car-pooling, Eamon Ryan has to give John Gormley a crossbar to work every day.
"The cars in the existing fleets will be replaced by much cheaper models," Mr Lenihan said in studio yesterday.
"It is quite likely he will be in the Mondeo from now on," a spokesman for the minister later said. "It's definitely a sign of things to come."
However, there is a more practical explanation -- a Mondeo is better suited to icy roads than his usual Mercedes. Mercs are rear-wheel drive, you see, and not very good at getting over challenging hills in adverse conditions -- a bit like the Government, in other words.
The traditional post-Budget Pat Kenny show allows listeners put questions to the Finance Minister of the day but Mr Lenihan got a fairly easy ride yesterday, considering the €6bn bomb he dropped the evening before.
He must have entered the studio anticipating an absolute mauling from various Mr and Mrs Angrys across Ireland, justifiably feeling hard done-by over the array of cuts and taxes.
But Mr Lenihan was in his best listening, 'I feel your pain' mode.
Sarah, a single mother, called in to ask about the cuts to her welfare payments. "You have a daughter who is age six?" Mr Lenihan asked.
"No, she's five," came the reply. "So she's just started school," Uncle Leno quietly empathised.
"Do you think I want to take money off people?" a sombre minister later asked.
One caller said Mr Lenihan and others in Government would be out playing golf and enjoying themselves while people suffered.
Mr Lenihan pointed out that he doesn't actually play golf, thank you very much.
However, the way the polls are at the moment, with Fianna Fail at a measly 13pc, the entire party should take it up.
They may have plenty of time to play when voters give them the boot in the next few months.