As the country tightens its belt, dons a hairshirt, and adopts other metaphorical fashion choices, media coverage of the budget has varied from relief and fury to Nazi comparisons.
Irish newspapers have different takes on the impact of the budget, with the Irish Times declaring “All groups hit as budget increases tax, cuts welfare”, while the Irish Examiner front page led with “Shakedown: Low-paid and the poor hit hardest as TDs escape cuts.”
Meanwhile, The Irish Independent went with “€6 billion cut and run”.
But the bad taste award must go to the Irish Daily Star editor Ger Colleran, who put a picture of Brian Lenihan in a Nazi uniform on the front page with the headline “I was just following orders.”
Sorry Ger, but let’s not get carried away. Six billion in budget cuts isn’t fun, but the comparison cheapens the memory of six million dead in the Holocaust.
And if you don’t understand just why Nazi comparisons are intellectually lazy, we suggest you read up on Godwin’s Law.
In the UK, Guardian journalist and blogger Lisa O’Carroll asks what is the point of taoiseach Brian Cowen’s €14,000 pay cut.
TASC, a left-wing think tank, has already pointed out that Cowen, until now earning 13 times the minimum wage, will now earn 14 times the minimum wage, as the government reduces the amount employers must pay the lowest paid by one euro per hour.
And the cut is unlikely to affect Cowen personally. The first taoiseach to see the pay cut will be his successor.
But the new taoiseach will still take home €214,000. And that’s before expenses, a state car, and the use of Farmleigh.
Today’s budget is expected to include a €250,000 cap on bosses’ pay in the public sector,” O’Connell wrote in her blog. “Although this is unlikely to cover the semi-state bodies, including the Electricity Supply Board and the Dublin Airport Authority whose bosses take home €750,000 and €550,000 respectively, or those already under contract.”
“These gestures will be cold comfort to the public who are facing child welfare cuts, income tax hikes and a reduction in the minimum wage.”