Government swallows bitter pills to display their fiscal responsibility

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe speak to the media after the end of the nurses strike. Picture: RollingNews.ie

THIS Government preaches fiscal responsibility from a high pulpit — but then it can be capable of collapsing like a cheap suit when demands for extra cash are put its way. We saw it this week, somewhat bizarrely, with a decision taken on vitamins.

It all raises interesting questions as to the exact centrality of the command structure within Government, and how much autonomy Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe does or does not enjoy. Needless to say the Taoiseach of the day is always seen as the ultimate boss but in each administration there is a different dynamic in the relationship between the Taoiseach and his Minister for Finance.

Does Mr Donohoe have his own bottom lines or are they all drawn by Mr Varadkar? Does the fact that the Minister came from a corporate background before entering politics mean he adapts more easily to a hierarchical structure. Back in the day Charlie McCreevy apparently thought nothing of keeping his then boss Bertie Ahern in the dark on some issues right up to Budget day. More recently Michael Noonan managed to maintain an air of mystery about himself and his portfolio, and where he might take things fiscally speaking.

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