Wednesday 16 October 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Donohoe tries desperately to keep the wolves from the door'


'Paschal is playing complete hardball with everybody'. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
'Paschal is playing complete hardball with everybody'. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

There are so many wolves at Paschal Donohoe's door it would be easy for him to lock himself inside and turn off the lights. But he has been burning the midnight oil over the weekend - before he taxes it out of use.

In recent years we have become used to 'giveaway budgets', not on the scale of the Celtic Tiger days but there was still a sense of entitlement that came with Budget Day.

Everybody's first thought has been 'what's in it for me?' And that's more than reasonable because we all want to keep the wolf from the door. Whether it's an income tax cut or an extra fiver on the pension, every little helps.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

Politicians are no different. All of them want more funding for their department that can be turned into 'good news' headlines over the coming days, weeks and months.

A string of ministers met with Mr Donohoe over the weekend to argue why they are a 'special case' in these dangerous times.

"Paschal is playing complete hardball with everybody," one of them told the Irish Independent.

The consensus is that the Finance Minister has been particularly inflexible, even contrary, this year. That's not surprising because he is trying to achieve the most delicate political balancing act on several fronts.

He must control spending so that we are prepared for Brexit - but he must also splash the cash so that Fine Gael and the Independents are on a solid footing with voters for the upcoming election.

He must hike carbon tax to show the Government is doing something about climate action - but he must not upset rural Ireland by taking the gas out of their tanks.

He must give out furiously about the overspending in Health so that ministers don't feel they can miss their targets - but he must argue that it's only €320m so he can't be accused of imprudence.

He must not be over-reliant on surging corporation tax so the economy doesn't appear vulnerable to global winds - but he spends the windfall because he needs the money.

Neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil, nor this writer, expected the two parties would be involved in a fourth budget under confidence and supply. It was even less likely that they would be framing it against a background of 5.5pc growth sitting alongside fears that tens of thousands of jobs could be lost in the short-term.

Tomorrow's Budget will be full of contradictions given it's based on a Brexit scenario everybody is aiming to avoid and an election everybody says isn't until next May.

Happily for him, Mr Donohoe did get some down time on Saturday night to attend Fine Gael's annual knees-up hosted by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a Dublin hotel.

He will have heard his leader mock their potential future coalition partners in the Green Party about playing with the wolves in Fianna Fáil. "And, I'd sooner bring back the wolves than let Sinn Féin into government," Mr Varadkar told his pack. It's a sign that once the Budget is out of the way, it'll be politicians we're trying to keep from our doors.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss