‘Would you like tax highs with that?’

IT was refreshing to see Minister for mass Unemployment Mary Coughlan prepare for what might befall her when voters finally catch up with this Government as she took her place behind the counter at McDonald’s.

“Would you like tax highs with that?” may not be the most customer-friendly slogan, but it will be all she and her colleagues have to say when they serve up deep fried spending cuts at the April 7 emergency Budget bucket spectacular.

Obviously, the Tánaiste was not actually flippin’ burgers on a FAS restart scheme — that would be silly, everyone knows FAS has blown the cash for such useful initiatives on the failed attempt at an Irish space programme they dreamed up to justify the“fact finding” trips to the beach in Florida — no, Ms Coughlan was here to praise the saviour of the nation’s economy, Ronald McDonald.

The scary clown — I’m referring of course to Ronald — was being honoured for converting attic space in one of his O’Connell Street eateries into a “people training centre” — as opposed to an animal training one?

The sniffy old Celtic Tiger would have swaggered on by with a sneer on his smug face at the indignity of even being invited to such an event, but in these hard times you’ve got to take the good news gigs where you can — especially as things are now so dire, architects are apparently desperate for a McJob in order to keep their heads above water.

Ms Coughlan had also been present the previous day as HP announced the rather more significant news that it was creating 500 jobs — a much needed glimmer of hope, but one that also served to highlight that with 1,000 people a day being thrown onto the dole queues, even this investment would only stem the tide for 12 hours.

Ms Coughlan was half an hour late for her stint at McDonalds after getting delayed at the Royal College of Physicians with the Taoiseach — tut, tut Mary, just like in the cabinet, you won’t be getting the employee of the month award from Ronald anytime soon.

Brian Cowen had clearly just finished a very unhappy meal as he turned up at the college looking as grumpy as thunder with his deputy in tow.

His speech on job opportunities was so woefully short on substance, even he sounded bored to death by it — “blah, blah, innovation, blah, blah, blah, smart economy, blah, blah, new challenges”.

Indeed, it was so tired the Taoiseach could barely summon the enthusiasm to turn the pages, let alone breath any life into the occasion.

Strangely, Napoleon’s tooth brush sat in pride of place in a glass case yards from the Taoiseach — it’s nearly 200 years old, mouldy and a bit threadbare, yet it still seemed fresher than the Government’s jobs creation policies.

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War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

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Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence