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The man who first persuaded us to accept that the answer was No

THERE is a story that gives us a clue to Ray MacSharry's character, to the man who, as Minister for Finance, laid the foundations in 1987 for the economic miracle of the following 20 years, the Mac the Knife who seemed to thrive on unpopularity.

When Haughey and MacSharry set about cutting public spending as a remedy for crisis in the Government's finances, they decided to scrap a home improvement grant scheme that had already been announced. There was an outcry from backbench TDs of all parties, who complained that contracts had been signed, deposits paid, and so on.

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