Ernest Blythe, The Minister for Finance in the first Free State Government has had a terrible press for cutting the old age pension and trying to balance the budget. A statement attributed to him in this period was that he could if left run the Free State for £20 million a year. In the light of the recent past maybe its a pity a little more of his Northern Presbyterian financial ethic wasn’t incorporated into spending public and private.
An interesting aside is that during this period and in the 1930s the Northern Ireland Government under the Unionist Party was divided into two factions, one led by the Prime Minister Craig, Andrews, and Dawson-Bates were populists and spenders, the other comprising the head of the cicil service Sir Wilfred Spender and Minister Milner-Barbour were trying to balance the budget. In theory most of the expenditure was supposed to be raised locally in practice the British exchequer made good the considerable shortfall.