Tuesday 23 January 2018

The ties have it as Lenihan enters the style stakes

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan arriving at the Department of Finance yesterday
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan arriving at the Department of Finance yesterday

Sam Smyth

IT was coming up on midnight before Brian Lenihan signed off on the final draft and the Budget was delivered to the inhouse printers in the basement of the Department of Finance.

A pristine copy of his Budget speech will be on the desk when he arrives this morning and he will recheck every line before meeting his most senior advisers.

The kitchen cabinet in the department, who had been tweaking drafts all day yesterday, will go through the finished document with the minister this morning.

Then Mr Lenihan begins a morning of briefings: first to his colleagues in the Cabinet, then the most senior officials across the civil service and before lunch to the ministers of state.

Rumours about surprises – both pleasant and nasty – will begin circulating around Leinster House over lunch while Mr Lenihan gets ready for a photocall at 2.30pm.

On top of all the economic and financial details he must command, the Minister for Finance has another decision to make this afternoon – his choice of tie.


And a surprising amount of punters’ money is riding on it: Paddy Power are laying two to one on a blue tie, yellow or gold comes in at fours and red is at fives.

“He will wear one tie to the office in the morning, then choose from a selection and change before going to the Dail to deliver his Budget speech at 3.45pm,” said a source close to Mr Lenihan.

It will be the first Budget as Secretary General for Kevin Cardiff although Mr Cardiff had worked on the previous three with Mr Lenihan – one in 2008 and two in 2009.

Yesterday, key officials’ awaited calls from Mr Lenihan to join him to finalise details in their area of speciality.

Derek Moran and Jim O’Brien from taxation and Michael McGrath from the budget and economics division hammered out details with the minister.

Robert Watt and Donal McNally, who had worked with economist Colm McCarthy on the An Bord Snip project, offered their tuppence worth.

But the day began with Mr Lenihan learning that the ‘Financial Times’ had named him as the worst Minister for Finance in Europe.

“He takes those things in his stride,” said a source last night.

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