When will the Irish government bank its budget largesse?

With sentiment hardening in favour of the government parties in the south, we’re seeing a return of auction politics says Noel Whelan…

…instead of offering to allocate additional resources that become available during the recovery firstly to those in greatest need the Government and the opposition parties are offering them to those sectors of the electorate most likely to vote and most able to make loud demands for attention.


The spindoctors have been particularly busy with the weekend press. One only has to look at recent editions of the Sunday newspapers to see that.

“Coalition plan 2pc USC cut in election gamble” was the front-page story in the Sunday Independent earlier this month with the sub-headline “€1,000 a year bonus for those under €70,000”.

“Government uses childcare to woo voters” the Sunday Times front page declared a couple of weeks ago.

Among the headlines on the front page of the Sunday Business Post on recent Sundays have been been the following: “Business and farmers to gain in budget”, “Property tax to be frozen as budget give-away begins”, “Government set to unveil new tax cuts for small firms”

When in a corner, what do you do? You resort to the old methods. The only question remaining is whether they go for a November election or one in Spring. It’s thought that Noonan wants to go early whilst the memory of the Budget is still fresh in the public mind.

Less worldly wise heads want it for when the largesse comes on stream in the Springtime.

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  • Kevin Breslin

    There’s a very simple response to counter this approach from Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, and that’s offer their alternative budget and let the public know how they are going to deal with Irish Water.

  • Gingray

    Mick Inside Politics had a good discussion on this last week, Noonan is fairly isolated in wanting an election this year with most, and Labour unsurprisingly, wanting one next when the picture should be even rosier, as many people have yet to really feel the impact return to growth.

    In terms of the budget surplus, they would be stupid to spend it all, and I think the Irish public would reward them for spending some and putting the rest against the debt, Fine Gael can win by showing they do fiscal responsibility better than the other parties.

  • the rich get richer

    Fg are now Ff so its just carry on as before.

    The Irish Electorate need to coral fg/ff/lab into the one political party that they are.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Surely if childcare helps mother’s work longer or more productively, it would eventually pay for itself.

  • Gingray

    Kevin, up to a point, but this is not just a giveaway of extra money in. It will add to the debt. From the article Mick references:

    “Firstly, any expenditure increases or tax giveaways at this time, even
    if small relative to those of previous governments, come not from
    current income but are added to the national debt. It is something our
    children will pay for. ”

    I was not suggesting they bank it all, but some.

    My understanding is that Departments have all submitted a wish list, well and above what is expected to be available. Supporting some things, as well as doing some debt relief, would work best, in my opinion, but open to being proven wrong.

  • notimetoshine

    I’m sorry but I don’t see how tax breaks for small businesses could be seen as auction politics. Pushing economic growth is hardly low down on the list of priorities.

    Childcare also, allowing more women to enter the workplace and stay there, not to mention that properly provided early years care can significantly improve a child’s life chances.

  • Robin Keogh

    The election will take place on Friday 11th March.