AS Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe delivers Budget ’18, TDs in Leinster House spent the afternoon reminiscing in the Dáil Bar about Budget ’09, known to the public as one of the most viciously austere and cruelly unfair budgets in the history of the State, but known to elected politicians as their ‘Italia ’90 moment’.
“Now that was a budget,” sighed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who at the time was the opposition party spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
“It had something for everyone. As a member of the opposition, we had plenty to complain about, to really rip into Fianna Fáil over what they were doing to the Irish people, without having to worry about how Fine Gael would do any different. Sinn Féin nearly shit themselves with joy when they heard what Lenihan was coming out with. And as for Fianna Fáil, well, their entire front bench were eyeing up retirement so they were beyond giving a fuck at that stage. What a day. There were TDs riding around on the bonnets of cars, waving flags and beeping their horns like mad”.
Paschal Donohoe added that while he had a good time doing up his budget, he would have loved to have done one up, back in the glory days of EU-imposed austerity and savagery.
“Me, I’m just moving a few euro around from pillar to post… back in October 2008, Budget ’09 did some proper, sexy damage to the Irish people,” said Donohoe, his own budget feeling limp and powerless in his hands.
“Like, people literally died because of the cuts in Budget ’09. Medical cards for over 70s, gone. DIRT increases, motor tax increases, VAT increases, college fees back in… can you imagine being a politician delivering that budget, how amazing it must have felt? And of course, poor aul Lenihan promptly died so he didn’t even have to listen to the country wash itself down the shitter”.
Budget ’09 was such a success that the government held another in April of the following year, which was described by TDs as ‘our USA ’94 budget; not as memorable, but good craic all the same’.