Philip Ryan: Snap election fears feeding into summer demand for Budget sweeteners
The Budget proposals are coming thick and fast this year. Once upon a time, the official start of Budget negotiations was Willie O'Dea's summer demand for a €5 increase in the State pension. But this year Transport Minister Shane Ross made sure the Independent Alliance were first out of the traps.
The group of increasingly wily Independent ministers were eager to ensure their Budget needs were not seen as an afterthought when Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe sits down to crunch his numbers.
In the run-ups to the last two Budgets, they felt like second-class citizens to Fianna Fáil when it came to talks with Fine Gael. They also compiled their shopping list a little too late in the day which gave Fine Gael the opportunity to say they didn't have time to crunch the figures. So this year they came out swinging early.