Post-Budget Analysis from Minister for Hardship

Following a recommendation from some colleagues who lived through the last fiscal crisis, I went looking for this. Thankfully, someone has placed a classic address from the Minister on Youtube.

link here

17 replies on “Post-Budget Analysis from Minister for Hardship”

Classic stuff and I am surprised that The Minister for Hardship has not an appearance before now . I am old enough to actually remember this . The Minister for Finance was called ‘ Richie Ruin ‘

Anyway how much would a toll on all the bridges raise ?
Maybe the ‘ Glimmerman could break into your house at night and demand that you buy more houses .

I can’t decide if its funny or just tragic .

It was funny then, when history repeats it is always tragedy!

I blew my ccareer such as it was. No one took a bit of notice. Will they now? Or will they just fight among themselves scrabbling in the dirt for scraps from the mighty merchant princes?

Does the herd think? Then it would not be a herd!

So funny. And he even sounds like Lenihan. Did anyone else get a little freaked out by how like his father Brian Jr sounded last Wednesday?

Just for the record, the so-called Minister for Hardship was a Fine Gael minister, Richie Ryan. He was given the name ‘Minister for Hardship’ after bringing in a harsh budget in late 1975 to close a fiscal gap that resulted from the oil-price-induced global recession of 1974/75. Following the budget, most economists and media commentators predicted that it would be years before the economy grew again. Some of them are still around and posting on this site. In fact, Ryan had the last laugh, at least in terms of reputation if not political success. The economy resumed growth almost immediately and grew by 3.3% in 1976, by 6.3% in 1977, by 7.2% in 1978 and by 4.2% in 1979. A repeat of that will do very nicely.


the minister for Hardship was Liam Cosgrave not Richie Ruin or Red Richie as he was called due to his introduction of a wealth tax to replace death duties. Imagine a FG finance minister introducing a w\alth tax.

Beware also, the growhtin 1978 & 1979 was caused by the massive fiscal stimulus after the FF landslide of 1977. That resulted in a the opening up massive structural deficit which was not confronted until 1987. I am not an economic historian but to me the expansionary fiscal policy pursued by FF in 1978-81 look remarkably like those advocated by the Unions now and occasionally suported by Deputy Lee.

Indeed. The days when political sattire was a part of political commentary seem so far removed from the ethos of our national broadcaster today.

Ah nostalgia isn’t what it used to be – but great stuff indeed. What’s striking is how much better the Halls Pictorial ministry names fitted than their “real” counterparts.
I can’t remember who was the Minister for Sickness and Death (euphemistically renamed to “Health”) and Conor Cruise O’Brien was well known, in the days when we still owned a telecommunications system, as the Minister for Gateposts and Telegraph poles.

“It was funny then, when history repeats it is always tragedy!”

According to Marx “History repeats itself – first as tragedy – then as farce!”
If this budget represents the tragic recurrence – how long before the farce?


I thought it was Richie Ryan. However, maybe you’re correct. My memory of that era is fading. I don’t think the Minister for Hardship was ever named, so perhaps we can each put our own interpretation on it. I’d have thought the Minister for Finance would be identified more with doling out hardship than the Taoiseach, but I may well be wrong.

Regarding the FF fiscal stimulus of late 1977 and early 1978. Yes, it was daft, damaging and unnecessary. However, the reason it was so was because the economy was allready growing rapidly by late 1976 and early 1977. Unemployment was falling from late 1976 on and growth had reached 6 per cent annually by the first half of 1977, before FF came to power. However, the media and academic economists would have none of it. They presented the growth as a freak and claimed that the economy was doomed (shades of now). The consequences were (a) the FG/Lab government got decimated, even though the economy was allready booming again by election day (b) to stimulate the economy (even though it was allready growing by 6%), an academic economist from TCD, Professor Martin O’Donoghue, dreamed up the ridiculous FF stimulus package.

FF bought the election through abolishing motor taxes and the remaining half of domestic rates and would have done so with or without O’Donoghue. The motor tax wheeze is eerily reminiscent of one of their most recent budget changes. The abolition of domestic rates was the final fulfilment of one of FF’s core aims – the elimination of significant unavoidable and unevadable taxes on the superwealthy.

The huge fiscal expansion policies in other countries may well benefit us greatly but that again will have nothing to do with FF. If our economy returns to growth sooner than expected it will be in spite of them – not because of them.


I thought it was Richie Ryan. However, maybe you’re correct. My memory of that era is fading. I don’t think the Minister for Hardship was ever named, so perhaps we can each put our own interpretation on it.

Note the similarity in style and delivery:

I have no doubt the character was Liam Cosgrave. Eamon Morrissey was far too good an actor to do an impression of Richie Ryan which would make him sound exactly like Liam Cosgrave. Unless he was doing and impression of Richie doing an impression of Liam – but then it wouldn’t have been as good an impression.

saw the reference on Eurointelligence. good to see a work of brilliance getting some new life. even the concept of a minister for hardship is so simple and funny. Phoenix still punches well on the satire front but in general, we are lacking intelligent satire in a way that is inexplicable given both the supply of comedians and the supply of material they have to work with.

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