Mark’s rightly focused on a bravura (and extremely well sustained) speech from Pearse Doherty. He made Joan Burton (who was on just before him) look decidedly academic and flat footed. But the other sound performer of the day was Michael Noonan of Fine Gael, whose more relaxed delivery held the attention of the Dail.
He has a way of commanding attention that still eludes his party leader. He gets the best heckler put down award when he turned to Paul Gogarty in mid flow with an off-the-cuff, “Is this a hit me now with the child in my arms intervention”.
Regardless, his speech hasn’t done his boss any harm, whose chances of being Taoiseach seem to grown, according to William Hill this evening, who:
…have revised their 2011 Irish Election odds following Minister Brian Lenihan’s budget speech. The bookmakers have shortened the odds of a Fine Gael/Labour coalition forming the next Government from 1/10 to 1/14, and also cut Enda Kenny from 1/3 to 1/5 to become the next Taoiseach.
The bookmakers have also pushed out the odds of Brian Lenihan becoming the next Fianna Fail leader from 5/1 to 8/1. Micheal Martin is now the 8/11 favourite, while Mary Hanafin is available at 11/8.
The Green party are expected to take the biggest hit of all. Fianna Fail’s coalition partners are now odds-on (4/5) to lose all of their six seats at the next election.