Irish governments have long preferred targets to policies: targets can be lofty and inspiring and failure to deliver blamed on uncontrollable circumstances. Quickly forgotten, they can be replaced with fresh targets. Policies must be announced, defended and implemented in the here and now.

Actual policies, especially increases in taxes or charges, or new cost impositions, tend to upset voters and will be remembered. Should voters get too grumpy, policies can get diluted, as with property tax, or abandoned altogether, as happened to urban water charges.