9 December, Ireland braces itself for the most draconian budget in the history of the state. In order to keep international bond markets sweet, the government plans to reduce the debt-ridden nation’s public deficit – more than 12% of GDP – by €4bn. First up for the drop today is the public sector, which can look forward to a €1.3bn slash in pay. According to the Irish Independent, social welfare will be also be walking the plank with Taoiseach Brian Cowen planning a plethora of cuts, including 10% on child benefit. The only good news, as the Dublin daily’s front page reveals, is that excise duty on alcohol will also be reduced. This should lead to a 10% reduction in the price of a pint, and contribute to public amnesia as to how successive Fianna Fail governments mismanaged the nation’s finances during the Celtic Tiger years.