Friday 23 March 2018

Ministers' holidays no shorter despite FG boasts

Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's ministers actually took a week longer on holidays than their predecessors, despite claiming to be back earlier.

Mr Kenny claimed the Government was busy with "confidence-building measures" over the course of the summer -- during their holidays. And ministers gloated about being back in Government Buildings in August.

However, contrary to suggestions, the cabinet meeting followed one of the shortest government summer breaks in decades.

But the Fianna Fail and Green Party coalition actually took a shorter holiday period two years ago.

This year, there was a five-week holiday gap between cabinet meetings, just two days less than a year ago.


But two years ago, the government was back to work after just four weeks and met in the month of August too.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday said the first cabinet meeting of the new session was a change.

"We thought it was a good idea to have our first cabinet meeting in August, rather than September, which had been the usual practice," he said.

But the precedent was actually set two years earlier as then Taoiseach Brian Cowen's government struggled to cope with the deteriorating economic climate.

Entering Government Buildings yesterday morning, Mr Kenny said he would be getting reports from ministers about the work that needs to be done.

"So there have been optimistic steps and confidence-building measures happening over the summer but there is a great deal of work up ahead and the Cabinet will not shirk its responsibility, both in telling the people what the scale of the problem is, and how we propose to deal with it," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Kenny said he was referring to a range of measures over the last few months:

•The interest rate reduction on the EU bailout fund.

•Over €1.1bn of private sector investment going into Bank of Ireland.

•Reducing the VAT rate to 9pc on tourism-related activities.

•Tax revenue being ahead of profile on end of July figures.

•Bank of Ireland raising over €2.9bn of term funding without the benefit of the state guarantee.

•The yield on government debt coming steadily downward with the 10-year yield having now fallen below 9pc.

Irish Independent

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