Even for those not interested in politics or au fait with the significance of Budget day, many were happy to recognise that after 9 years of standing in the opposition dugout, Michael McGrath TD finally had the opportunity to flesh out the most anticipated budget in a decade, as a Government Minister.
Pictured on the eve of the delivery of the country’s economic roadmap, the local Carrigaline TD probably had little time to reflect on past experiences as an opposition finance spokesman for Fianna Fáil. Nevertheless it could be said that whether it be friend or foe, there were many constituents pleased to see that after many years of leading his party on the economy, on this occasion he did so as a member of the Executive.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform rose to his feet shortly before 2PM in the now not so new surroundings of the Convention Centre. Although this was a co-delivery with Minister for Finance, Pascal Donohue, it was the first time a Fianna Fáil minister had led the way in delivering the budget, since the late Brian Lenihan in December 2010.
While there will be no shortage of debate, as there always is, on the direction taken by the Government, it’s safe to say that in this instance, the response taken to combat the enormous shock to the financial system does not replicate the gloomy and detrimental package of austerity that this country faced 10 years ago.
McGrath himself, with one more sleep before D-Day, acknowledged on social media that Budget 2021 would not please everyone, but believed that despite the challenges ahead, “we will get through this.”
As column inches fill the ‘dailys’ and as pundits give their two cents on the airwaves, the moment should not pass without referring to this significant moment on the Passage West native’s political timeline.
13 years as a representative for Cork South-Central, and a further 8 on top of that as a Councillor between Passage West Town Council and Cork County Council, meaning that to date Michael has served 21 years on behalf of his constituents. Not bad for someone still in their 40s!