Fintan O’Toole: Spare us the scare stories about public spending

Ireland will have to borrow a lot of money. What matters is how well we spend it

The big issue is not the money – it’s what we do with it. Photograph: Getty Images

The big issue is not the money – it’s what we do with it. Photograph: Getty Images

Let’s begin with the most expensive cabbages in the world. They tell us something about the way in which the debate on the public finances after the coronavirus is being framed.

In April 2005, the then minister for justice used the phrase “good value for money”. He was defending his purchase, on behalf of the State, of 150 acres of land on the border between Dublin and Meath, for €30 million or €200,000 an acre. A farm four miles away had recently been sold for €26,000 an acre.

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