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Monday 22 January 2018

Michael Noonan moves to keep the message simple: Don’t mess up!

Dizzying array of economic promises on view

Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath
John Downing

John Downing

WATCH for more and more of “LKRG” – shorthand for Fine Gael’s election war-cry: “Let’s Keep the Recovery Going.”

The first television clash of the big boys – and the big four party finance spokespeople were all male – sought to break down what’s in this election for the average voter in either money in pocket or better services.

There were the two government moneybags, Michael Noonan of Fine Gael, Brendan Howlin of Labour,  along with their opponents Michael McGrath of Fianna Fáil and Pearse Doherty of Sinn Féin, fought a grim and detailed battle on RTE1’s “Claire Byrne Live.”

Unsurprisingly, what emerged was a dizzying array of detailed promises – percentages, PRSI and PAYE  variations, hundreds and thousands extra per year, percentages by the dozen, and from time to time specific euros per week. The clear impression was that all of the promises require a deal of detailed study not readily doable for those of us with real lives.

Big picture observations showed Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin as being very keen to stay on the same government page – in contrast to some of their other party colleagues who appear keen to forget that they have not walked the same grim road for the past five years.

Michael McGrath continued doggedly, and frequently credibly, to argue that Fianna Fáil is fighting to regain a reputation for good economic management.  Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty kept up the image of the friend of those on low-incomes – the Taoiseach gains €8,000 per year from USC abolition while a worker on €18,000 gets €100 per year.

Back to that “LKRG” mantra. Presenter Claire Byrne asked a whimsical but telling question of the Finance Minister. “Michael are you on commission for every time you mention ‘Let’s Keep the Recovery Going?’”

Well, clearly Mr Noonan hopes he is and that it amounts to a return to power.  As the dizzying array of detailed money promises pile up before an indifferent electorate, it is time to keep the message very simple.

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