All together: Flash, Bang, Wallop, Taoiseach, What a Picture!
Even inscrutable Michael Noonan, and the way he might slump in his seat, is looking confident
Taoiseach Enda Kenny joking with Herb Hribar, Chief Executive eircom Group; Joe Schmidt Irish head coach; and Simon Boucher, CEO IMI, at the IMI National Management Conference “Game Changers for Growth”, at Sandyford , Co Dublin, yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke.
This is the strangest budget run-in for a long time.
Less than a week to go until Michael Noonan delivers his statement to the Dáil and the usual clamour and hype that go along with the build-up to the annual budget statement has been oddly absent.
The entertaining sport of ministerial kite-flying has proved a major disappointment. It seems the Cabinet’s powerful Economic Management Council has added air- traffic control to its list of specialities.
Meanwhile, the interest groups are only getting around to launching their pre- budget submissions, while the Opposition hasn’t been half as vocal as usual.
They’ve had other fish to fry in recent weeks. The major distraction of the Seanad referendum has given the government an easy passage to Budget 2014.
But it isn’t just the lack of a rising sense of panic that is unusual, it is also the demeanour of senior ministers, including the aforementioned members of the EMC.
All very bright and upbeat. Even inscrutable Michael Noonan, and the way he might slump in his seat, is looking confident.
It’s very worrying. What’s going on? Expectation management before the budget is supposed to involve dark hints of awful carnage to come. Then, when a cowering nation is expecting the worst, the Government inflicts a string of minor atrocities and claps itself on the back for showing such mercy.
For a man who suffered an electoral wallop on Saturday, the Taoiseach has been in great form all week. He had a great day yesterday. There was the slight inconvenience of Leaders Questions in the morning, and an EMC meeting in the afternoon, but he finished well with three lovely photos for his album.
That’s a result in Enda’s book.
Game Changers for Growth
The first one, we’ll get back to. The second involved a visit to Sandyford, Co Dublin, to the movers and shakers at the annual conference of the Irish Management Institute. They have a great welcome for themselves out there.
The title of this year’s beano is “Game Changers for Growth”.
Morto for them.
The Taoiseach made a speech. No big deal. Then it was down to business. He had his picture taken with Joe Schmidt, coach of the Irish rugby team. They posed and then had a little kick-about. Enda got a bang in the face with the ball.
Back at Government Buildings, he met a very special guest. Bill Clinton paid a courtesy call. There’s flash.
Enda loves American presidents. He was delighted with himself. Of course, they have a lot in common, these leaders of men. Clinton, the country boy from Little Rock, Arkansas. Kenny, the country boy from Islandeady, Mayo.