Budget takes on whole new significance ahead of election


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Budget takes on whole new significance ahead of election Budget takes on whole new significance ahead of election

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The first significant typo I made was in the Connacht Tribune office in July 1989. I had just started working there that summer as the most junior reporter. It was Race Week and that Monday, Brendan Carroll asked me to write the preview story of the Races for that Tuesday’s Sentinel.

The thrust of the story was about how much the races were worth to the city. I can tell you here and now that no actuary was involved in the calculation. The only figure we had was the figure for overall spending on the Tote for the previous year.

Using an age-old formula, I was asked to add ten per cent to it, then quadruple it to take account of the amount of money that would be spent on the bookies. I spoke to a hotelier who gave me a figure off the top of his head as to how much would be spent on hospitality.

I added them all tighter, stirred the pot, added a dash of salt, pepper and an extra million or two and came up with the grand total of what would be spent in Galway during that week.

There was one slight drawback. I forgot to include the word million in my first sentence – and when people opened their Connacht Sentinels the following morning, they learned that “Galway is in line for a £13 splurge during the course of this year’s Race Week.”

There was much embarrassment on my part and a level of sympathy from my colleagues in the newsroom that equalled zero.

I was thinking of that sum on Tuesday when the Summer Economic Statement was published by Minister for Finance Jack Chambers and Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe.

I remember when I wrote it that I could not believe that so much money as €13 million could be spent in a city as small as Galway in the course of a single week. The figure seemed enormous – at least at the time; it seems almost piffling now.

While outlining the document on Tuesday, Donohoe revealed the State spending in 2025 will surpass the €100 billion mark for the first time.

I checked back to the time I wrote that story to see how much the State had spent in 1989. It was £5.53 million (or €7 million).

Pictured: The money men…Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Jack Chambers this week.

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