Cowen Droned on like the Company Accountant Who Making Cuts; Grim-Faced: Brian Cowen Yesterday

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Byline: MARY CARR

THE most profound global recession... the eliminating of the deficit... today we are announcing the first steps... these adjustments represent&' The moth-eaten platitudes tripped off the Taoiseach's tongue, just as they did last summer when the penny finally dropped about our ailing economy, last autumn after the announcement of the early Budget and then in December when the Government resolved to tackle the dwindling public finances - on every occasion the Dail has convened over the past eight months to hear the Government's plan to deal with the economic crisis.

Yesterday though promised to be something different - a momentous day which would definitively set out the grand plan for our survival. Unfortunately the only thing that indicated the significance of the occasion was the full turnout of Fianna Fail senators who arrived in the chamber before Brian Cowen's 4pm speech.

A buzz of anticipation also rose from the opposition benches, but once again the Taoiseach failed abysmally to respond to the situation.

He read from his script, announcing the pension levy and the list of spending cuts which would reduce the Exchequer bill by the magic E2billion, but he may as well have been a company finance officer for all the conviction or empathy in his delivery. His performance was nothing if not matter-of-fact and typically churlish.

'The biggest tragedy of the current circumstances is the loss of jobs,' he said, without a scintilla of feeling, as if his only remit was to spell out the numerical reality of the situation and that someone else could be trusted to address questions like vision, leadership, or esprit de corps. …