They haven't gone away you know. The whiff of the troika was in the air again this week as the lesser-spotted Finance Minister Michael Noonan vowed to wreak €2bn worth of cuts in Budget 2015. The Government had been busy talking up the economy and announcing the same new jobs 40 times in recent weeks. The handlers had even fed the media talk of tax cuts by October. Now this?
Noonan has the perfect pitch for delivering bad news. His voice dips so low it comes from a pit about a mile below the diaphragm where joy cannot dwell. He should borrow Pharrell Williams' giant happy hat, especially since he alone has the head to fill it.
No political party a month away from an election would warn of more misery to come amid reports of economic growth. We can therefore elementarily deduce it's not a Government idea. Noonan waved off the troika to great fanfare in December, but there was always going to be a nasty little surprise afterwards and it's not Brendan Howlin.
The Labour man is like a Collie to Noonan's Alsatian but nobody in his party was even raising a growl about this new two billion euro hatchet. They were busy having a panto row with Fine Gael about water charges. Labour had promised to be a watchdog in Government. Now it's like an overfed puppy who's belly has grown so big its legs can't reach the floor. So it just sits there all sad-eyed in the corner waiting for the electorate to come along and put it down.
The odd time it makes a bit of a yelp like this whine over standing charges on water but we all know the reason why anyone can't tell us the fee. It's because the troika hasn't decided it yet.
The next time we'll hear from Noonan again is when they feel we're getting too happy for our own good. Like Rip Van Winkle, Michael will be roused from his slumber and find that all the good things he remembered are gone. His beloved sheep dog Brendan will also be missing and all that will be left of Labour is the helium echo of Joan Burton. Even that will be drowned out by Noonan's baritone fog horn, warning of more ice right ahead.