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This is the story of the bold housewives and the tricky wizard

Once upon a time, not a very long time ago, the ordinary housewives of Ireland did a very bold thing.

They travelled to a neighbouring kingdom called Newry to buy nappies and First Communion dresses and baby formula, because all of these were much, much cheaper than in their own little kingdom down the road.

And the housewives of Ireland thought they were very, very clever indeed. They didn't have nearly as many gold coins to spend as they used to have, and this seemed a magical way of making their few gold coins last a little longer.

But then, a new wizard in the Department of Finance called Brian Lenihan got very, very cross.


This wizard told the housewives they weren't clever at all, actually, they were very bold because he needed taxes to give to the hospitals and schools. And with ordinary housewives doing their shopping in Newry, where was the tax money supposed to come from? Had they thought of that? He couldn't spin gold from straw!

Oh dear. Keeping back money from hospitals and schools -- wasn't that naughty? The housewives of Ireland hung their heads in shame. It turned out they weren't nearly as clever as they thought they were. No, they were very, very bold.

Then, one bright day, the housewives heard that a wizard from yesteryear called Bertie had written a book. The book was all about how super HE'D been back when he was still a wizard, when everyone had lots and lots of gold coins.

And guess what? It turned out Bertie wasn't going to pay tax on the earnings from his book.

Oh dear. The ordinary housewives of Ireland, who had thought they were so clever only it turned out they were bold, expected the new wizard would be very, very cross.

Because the new wizard still needed taxes to give to hospitals and schools, and actually he could do with a bit more to pay for flood defences and road repairs and new water pipes, and where was the money supposed to come from? Had the old wizard thought of that?

So the housewives waited to hear the new wizard tell the old wizard he was very, very bold. And they waited and they waited and they waited. And for all anyone knows, they're waiting there still.


So ends the Tale Of The Bold Housewives And The Tricky Wizard, which I intend to tell my grandchildren some day. Unfortunately, unlike most fairy tales, it lacks a moral message.

I expect the little kiddies who hear my story will have a few questions to ask. After all, it's their generation that could well still be paying the price for our bailout of the banks and clean-up after the property bubble.

They'll want to know why ordinary housewives were lambasted for trying to stretch their family income any way they could. This, after those same family incomes had been squeezed by pay cuts and new levies and higher old levies and lower child benefit.

They'll wonder why, on the other hand, it was okay for the person who'd been in charge as the banks lent ever more recklessly and the property bubble swelled to claim a big, fat juicy tax break.

This, at the very time when his country needed funds more than ever, if only to fix the leaking pipes so his neighbours could rely on their running water once again.

And they'll scratch their little heads over why it was actions of the housewives -- not the former taoiseach -- that made the government of the day cry shame. Strange, that.

Pity I won't have any good answers to give them.

It's only in much older fairy tales, it seems, that ordinary people triumph and the arrogant power-brokers are humbled.