Thomas Molloy: Noonan has more scope but less guarantee of economic success
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan's sphinx-like face rarely gives much away. Yesterday, it was impossible to guess whether he was happy or unhappy with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council's first report, which concludes that the Limerick man should introduce much harsher budgets over the next few years than agreed with the IMF and ECB.
Noonan has been given the political camouflage needed to introduce a really harsh Budget but he will now find it difficult to unveil the sort of Budget that either the Labour Party or many Fine Gael backbenchers will want this December.
The Finance Minister has accepted for some time that he will have to introduce a Budget that takes more than €3.6bn out of the economy if he is to meet the targets imposed by the bailout partners but no serious commentator had called for the €4.4bn until the new Irish Fiscal Advisory Council published its recommendations yesterday morning.