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Hello 2011, cheerio disposable income

TODAY is the first pay cheque of 2011 for those of us on the average industrial wage and lucky enough to have a job.

As expected, it’s also the day that we truly see how the Budget of all budgets affects us.

This morning, many of my workmates sat around looking in dismay at the kick in the pocket we have to endure.

Analysing the cost of living, mortgage (if you’re lucky enough to be able to keep up your repayments) and all the other usual bills, we realised we now, realistically, have little or no disposable income.

For me, married with two young children, this means cutting out, not cutting back, the things I enjoy – an odd day at the races, maybe a weekend away once a year, our family holiday, the buying of something for the house when you had a few quid to spare.

This week, we had more bad news about Celtic Bookmakers, Toni & Guy, HMV, and others. These are all from industries that rely totally on people’s disposable income. How many more are going to follow?

At the end of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s Budget speech, he said the Budget, although painful, would ultimately prove to be beneficial in getting us up and running again. Look at the price of petrol crippling us, not to mention last week’s farcical announcement from the VHI.

People will now be going without health insurance, and I’m sure home insurance, leading to more job losses.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had the cheek to criticise his successor Brian Cowen’s handling of the crisis. Mr Ahern went when he knew the game was up, just like all of those Fianna Fail TDs taking the retirement option before they are otherwise hammered into oblivion by the electorate.

The skipper of a sinking ship is obliged to stay on board until everyone else is safe. Mr Cowen and Mr Lenihan have taken a hammering for a crisis that cannot have been solely their doing.

At least they’ve had the courage and dignity to face the music and fight on, which is much more than can be said for the ex-darling of the nation, Bertie Ahern.

Declan Burke