The difference between FF and FG? Twelve months.

Anyone who watched the anodyne post-budget chat between Michael Noonan (FG) and Michael McGrath (FF) on RTE’s PrimeTime on Tuesday must have been reminded of Pearse Doherty’s comment during Sinn Féin’s response to the budget in the Dáil earlier that day that the difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is twelve months.

In retrospect the kites that were flown prior to the budget provide a cynical benchmark of the extent to which the government tried to instill fear in the public to condition them for some of the changes that were made, in particular regularly flagged measures like raising the cost of prescriptions for those on medical cards from 50c to €2 and a €50 annual charge for medical cards. An attempt to make changes to disability allowances managed to lose Labour it’s newest TD (and third to go over the budget). The measure already seems to have been parked.

What the government failed to flag was the extent to which property-related measures would be brought in (see a summary here on NamaWineLake). You’d never think this was an economy blown apart by a property bubble.

Twelve months doesn’t appear to be a long time in politics.