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Mr Economist, heal thyself!

One of the areas that we were told would be targeted in the punitive cutbacks forced upon us by the appalling national debt was that of the dreaded quango.

No surprise, then, to see yet another of these raising its ugly head in the form of the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland, a public body funded by the OFMDFM.

This unelected and unrepresentative body is now advising our administration on who to best target in the next round of cuts.

Its director, the economist Victor Hewitt, has taken it upon himself to cite water charges, free prescriptions and free travel for the elderly as worthy of attack.

Perhaps OFMDFM would tell us how much this quango is costing the already hard-hit taxpayer.

Some of the comments from Mr Hewitt's report smack of smug Thatcherism at its worst.

Economists tend to forget, conveniently, that their machinations are what got us into this mess in the first place.