Bruce Arnold

Chief Critic of the Irish Independent, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

It is like the Icelandic volcano, a dark cloud of ash threatening to close Europe for business

The main concern over the weekend was to complete the deal in time before the markets opened yesterday morning, thus offering a form of Irish sacrifice that was clearly aimed, not at the reassurance of the Irish public, but at the reassurance of foreign markets on behalf of the euro.

The dreadful deed was done. Briefly, the markets seemed to respond positively but then fell back. And another sacrifice on the altar of political ineptitude took place. Too early to say that Europe is in freefall, but whatever is happening we are at the centre of things, which is what we voted for in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum, though what is happening now is a long way from what we thought was saving us. Read More...

Fianna Fail must not be allowed to profit from the uncertainty

In the course of Dail exchanges on Thursday, Brian Cowen, who has adopted a trenchant, war-like demeanour since he got the four-year plan and started waving it around like a weapon, warned the opposition over its handling of figures. "Make sure they add up," he said.

He seemed encouraged by the Greens staying with him and by his own dissidents having second thoughts. But this has been achieved by an illusory trick with mirrors. The tricks must be stopped. Read More...

This is the biggest political betrayal in Irish history

Brian Cowen has carried through his third major betrayal of the Irish people, far more damaging than either of the previous assaults on our sovereignty and Constitution.

The first was his immediate rejection of the country's constitutional decision not to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in 2008. His second was the comprehensive dishonesty with which the second Lisbon Treaty vote was put before the Irish people in 2009 and carried, by only a narrow margin, despite the complicity of the three main parties.

The third has been the stitch-up of what remained of Irish democracy into a squalid deal between the Cowen-led Government, the EU and the IMF. We are getting nothing out of this except a huge increase in our national debt. It has risen to a phenomenal €117,000 per taxpayer. Read More...

Greens' bizarre half-exit sets up a weak Budget

John Gormley and the Greens made two constitutional blunders in their muddled and confused press conference yesterday. Firstly, they breached cabinet confidentiality and government agreement over their position on the financial package.

Second, they breached collective responsibility, supposedly still from within the Government, with their call for an election and their proposal as to when it should be declared. They must resign fully and not engage in bizarre half-resignation.

Their further pontifications do not make sense; they must give up the idea that they can set any political agenda. Read More...

Director general, please fix our lop-sided and opinionated RTE

Noel Curran has been appointed Director General of RTE to succeed Cathal Goan. He takes up his position in February of next year. It is customary on such occasions to offer encouragement in a difficult job or to make some other positive remarks about how he will manage his new role.

I will content myself with one key suggestion: that he reconsiders, in fundamental terms, his recent past experience as editor of current affairs in the news division and as a member of the senior management team of news and current affairs with responsibility for editorial output and management of resources. Read More...

This Government has discredited Ireland

It has become a vital need of the Irish State to hold an election and achieve a new mandate for government that will allow the shaping of a plan that satisfies the people of this country that they have clear leadership and know where they are going.

This is not possible under Brian Cowen, whose political credit has long since run out. Nor is it possible under Fianna Fail -- a party whose confusion is immense and whose alternative leaders have produced nothing either clear or reliable in terms of a replacement policy for the one that Cowen tried, ineffectually, to follow. Read More...