| 15°C Dublin

Kevin Doyle: 'Budget reaction shows we're now desensitised to dangers of Brexit'



Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar opened his Dáil monologue on the Budget with a biblical reference to how economic strategising took place in ancient Egypt.

He told of Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel, who was able to predict the trajectory of Egypt's economy - a period of boom, followed by a period of bust.

"Forewarned, he was forearmed, he was able to guide the country through the worst of the crisis, saving his own people as a result."

Now even Varadkar wouldn't be vain enough to believe he is our Messiah - but the Taoiseach wants us to believe that his is the leadership we need in these troubled times.

There has been a biblical feel to the entire budgetary process this year.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe put so much emphasis on the doomsday scenario presented by Brexit that he might as well have said the fires of hell are opening up.

But the problem is that most people are all so desensitised to the perils of Brexit that we think 'meh'. As Joan Collins might say: "You don't really give a f**k."

That's not to say that people aren't concerned about all the problems Boris Johnson is causing for us. It's just that many of us find it hard to live in a constant state of fear and paralysis.

We are all Paschal's prodigal children, wanting to squander the good fortune that has come with the country's latest economic upcycle.

But Varadkar and Donohoe have told us now. If we don't heed the warnings, it will be our own fault. 'We told you so' won't be much of a mantra if the worst happens in a few weeks' time, but it will give Fine Gael a little cover at election time.

The €1.2bn package put together as part of Budget 2020 is no small amount - but it does make you wonder what would have happened if the UK had crashed out at the first deadline last March.

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin noted in his Dáil contribution that "even the Government's most sycophantic backbenchers have to admit that Ireland was manifestly not ready for Brexit in March - when we came within days of a chaotic Brexit happening".

Ultimately, this 'Brexit Budget' will have very little impact on the next election.

As you might expect, there has been stinging criticism from lobby groups who say there is nothing for people who get up in the morning and close to nothing for those who are unable to get up.

Opposition parties played their standard role by complaining about the lack of imagination on offer. Labour leader Brendan Howlin went so far as to claim the measures were "depressing".

But Budget 2020 has just about survived a 24-hour news cycle, which is extremely unusual.

Brexit is not the apocalypse, but it's almost as all-consuming. And it's certainly confusing enough without adding in a complicated Budget.

Irish Independent