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Shame as Dail is deserted for debate

THEY promised a new dawn but we've still got a half-empty Dail.

Dozens of TDs were AWOL yesterday as Michael Noonan revealed the full horror of Ireland's €70bn bailout.

Mr Noonan arrived in the House yesterday afternoon flanked by most of the new Cabinet but across the floor there was plenty of stretching room on the Labour benches.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins told the Herald that it was "mainly the Government benches that were half empty". He said he understood some TDs who travel big distances might leave early on Thursday, but yesterday should have been different.

"We have a Government that is beginning to get arrogant already," he said.

Only five Fianna Fail TDs could summon the courage to hear the new Finance Minister's plan to clear up their mess.

Among them was Mr Noonan's predecessor Brian Lenihan who sat stony faced through the debate.