The leaders of the opposition were given the chance to air their views on the first day of Budget 2012 yesterday evening but the response was predictably underwhelming and lukewarm at best.
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin, Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and Independent TD Thomas Pringle, the lucky dip nominee of the Dáil Technical Group, were all given a brief television slot to fit around the schedules of the Six O’Clock and Nine O’Clock news to have their say, because, well Enda had his chance so they wanted theirs too.
Given the prime-time slot after the Nine O’Clock news and a whole extra minute than the other two representatives, Micheál Martin attacked the €2.2 billion cuts announced by Brendan Howlin yesterday, saying that the budget amendments “do nothing to help vulnerable families” and that the rise in VAT of two per cent could cause “significant damage” to the retail sector.
Gerry Adams, given a slightly less box-office slot after the Six O’Clock News, thought that there were few positives to draw from the budget, saying that it was “the same old story from this conservative government”.
Like Martin, he called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to attack the wealthy when Noonan announces the various tax measures today, calling for a “a fairer tax system that taxes wealth”.
Donegal native Thomas Pringle was shoehorned into the vastly unappealing slot before the Six O’Clock News, a time when people traditionally switch the channel to avoid the Angelus.
Having been literally drawn from a hat to represent the Dáil Technical Group, Pringle was given three minutes to act as the voice of the Independents, but didn’t say much of note, merely saying that the Budget was a missed opportunity and “much ado about nothing”.
A little like the opposition responses in general then, Thomas, and indeed, a little like Enda Kenny’s State of the Nation Speech on Sunday night. Which begs the question, what was the point of all these speeches in the first place?
Sometimes things are just better left unsaid.