“NO one is actively celebrating the achievement of a further €4 billion fiscal adjustment”

so says Garret FitzGerald.

“Cutting civil and public servants’ wages…Slashing welfare rates…Cutting child benefit…Taking all these steps in a single budget would once have been in the realm of political fantasy land. Yet that is what the Government did this week. Coming at the end of a year in which income taxes were increased dramatically and a public sector pension levy was introduced, it is truly extraordinary. For all the talk about his leadership style, our relatively novice Taoiseach deserves credit for carrying his Cabinet, his party and his Dáil majority through for these necessary draconian measures.” [Noel Whelan, Irish Times]

“The Government didn’t lose a single TD or any of its Independent supporters in the vote on the first cut in social welfare rates since Ernest Blythe’s budget of 1924. That is a tribute to the skill with which the public was softened up for the measure and the way it was packaged and delivered.” [Stephen Collins, Irish Times]

“There will be many editorials written about the harshest budget in the history of the State. Suffice to say, on first reading, that the decisions taken rise up to the occasion financially. They were courageous, bold, above party politics, above sectional interest and they appear to have put the country first.” [Editorial, Irish Times]

“Cowen finally walks the walk…WHATEVER your opinion of the National Asset Management Agency, the outcome of the Lisbon Treaty referendum or Budget 2010, you have to admit that Brian Cowen’s Government, despite being probably the most unpopular in the history of the state, is managing to get a lot done…This week’s strong start could be undermined by any weakening of resolve.” [Editorial, Irish Independent]

“Despite the harsh nature of the budget, there is still a lot of pain to come and we can be certain that this time next year, we will be struggling to come up with another €4 billion in fiscal adjustment. There is no choice however, and at least the minister is now addressing the key issues in a reasonably strong manner. Some measures to stimulate employment, such as cutting employers’ PRSI would have been welcome, but we can’t have everything.” [Jim Power, Irish Examiner]

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