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Kiddies get a scolding as Michael mops up spilled milk

Michael Noonan's day got off to a grand start when he stood side-by-side with the Taoiseach and Dell bigwig Jeff Clarke yesterday morning to announce 150 jobs in his home turf of Limerick and elsewhere.

But by mid-afternoon he was sporting the sort of unimpressed expression of a parent who turns his back on his toddlers only to find that they've scribbled all over the pristine white walls in big thick crayons.

While certain colleagues have been displaying of late the characteristics of a barnyard of decapitated fowl, the Finance Minister is determined to show that he at least isn't losing his head and running around in squawking circles.

Sure hasn't he enough on his plate, what with trying to chisel a decent deal out of our IMF/ EU overlords and attempting to claw a way out of the financial black hole, without having various hotheads going all Nostradamus and predicting doomsday scenarios about bailouts and the like.

And so the seasoned veteran sailed into his session of question-time in the Dail yesterday with the clear intention of getting everyone to simmer down.

He was armed to the teeth with put-downs and lugging a big steaming bucket of scorn to pour over everyone -- the excitable Dail kiddiewinks, his intractable French counterpart, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and even the woolly baa-lambs in the bond markets.

The attitude of Madame Non, Christine Lagarde, to the Irish pickle is evidently getting on his wick, and he made it clear that he was displeased by her unbending stance on a renegotiation of the punitive interest rates loaded on the bailout loan.

Like Limerick's own Maggie Thatcher, Michael isn't for turning on this one.

"I'm not going to be waltzed around by any member state. There is no way whatsoever that I am going to negotiate with anyone in the French government to concede anything," he declared stoutly.

"Those that are opposing us and trying to force us to change our corporation tax rate, I can tell them once more today they have no negotiating position because the amounts of money are so small in relation to the adjustments we require to make, that we're going to hang out, we're not going to concede."

And then he donned his apron, rolled up his sleeves and set about mopping up the spilled milk and wiping the crayon-marks off the wall.

First he tackled the question of when exactly Ireland Inc intended to venture back into the shark-infested waters of the bond markers. "The NTMA's intention is to put its toe in the market in the third quarter of 2012," he explained.

But sure that was plenty of time, reckoned Michael. "We're a long way from that, we're 15 months away and the thing about the markets is, they predicted the last 30 recessions and they were right on six of them," he scoffed.

He has little time for the sort of herd behaviour which causes economies to fall off cliffs. "The bond markets and the stock markets are a bit like sheep, they all move in the same direction," he shrugged.

And then it was time to address the more loose-lipped whippersnappers. He fixed a stern eye on Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty.

"The trouble is the longer you're in the Dail, the more influential you're going to get. And talking about bailouts and second bailouts and so on -- if credible people keep saying it, it's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and what you say is going to be carried internationally," he told Pearse.

And he even invoked that grim creature who stalks the likes of Cork and Limerick, the Boodyman (known in the capital as the Boogeyman).

"If you want to scaremonger and frighten the children and talk about the Boodyman coming down the chimney in two years' time -- go right ahead and do it," he told him.

Maybe Michael could set the Boodyman on the bold children in government. He'll be there in a thrice if anyone as much as hints about that dread scenario, the second b*****t.

Irish Independent