David Davin Power reports on Charlie McCreevy's address to the Dáil and the replies from Fine Gael and Labour. McCreevy signals that there will be radical administrative decentralisation.

The announcement of the biggest decentralisation programme in the history of the state overshadowed all other elements of the budget. Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy announced that 10,000 civil servants would be transferred out of Dublin under proposals to involve every government department.

Other budget announcements included an increase in employee tax credits while the standard rate band stayed the same. The €10 per week increase in social welfare payments were criticised by anti-poverty campaigners.

McCreevy stated in his budget speech that "Decentralisation will involve the transfer of complete departments including their ministers and senior management to provincial locations..."