Bruce Arnold

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

SF fills vacuum by standing up to Eurocrats

I watched Michael D Higgins being interviewed on Saturday's early evening news. It lasted about seven minutes. He was addressed as 'president-elect', a formality that might have been more correct as Mr president-elect'.

It seemed our new president achieved the whole exchange in one sentence. This was characteristic of him, a self-serving ribbon of sound, paying little attention to the questions.

For years, Michael D Higgins, in his public speaking, has wrapped one clause around another in a consciously literate expression of the content of his mind. Like the longest sentence in Marcel Proust's 'A Remembrance of Things Past' that goes on for several pages, life, wisdom, beauty and art are comfortably -- even lovingly -- wrapped up in the stream of words. There will be something in it for everyone. It will make him what he has so obviously promised: a president for all the people. Read More...

Sinn Fein gets a lesson in humility

In the presidential election, Sinn Fein worked on a number of clear assumptions. Though these were well known to its membership and its supporters, they were less apparent to the Irish electorate. The first was its claim to now be one of the main political parties in the State, in contention for the role of main opposition party in place of Fianna Fail.

As such, the party made a second assumption. This was that, as a main political party, it needed to run a candidate for the presidency. It was reinforced in this by the scale of Fianna Fail's collapse in the February general election together with the party's decision not to contest the presidential election. The first was unexpected, the second the result of an understandable loss of confidence combined with colossal debts. Read More...

Gallagher's myth-making will bring shame on Aras

Sean Gallagher has brought disgrace on this election and on his own campaign. He should make a public announcement in advance of tomorrow's vote, stating that he is withdrawing from the election because of the sustained misleading of the public. He is at liberty to do that and step out of the presidential race.

If he does not do so, he will permanently damage the office of President of Ireland. If he still wins, the media will be dealing with someone who has repeatedly misled the people, not by accident, but by design. Journalists in the future will question the truthfulness of anything he says. They will continue to hound him in office. There is no reason to suppose that his inventive myth-making will not dog us forever more. Read More...

Don't repeat old mistakes when casting your vote

As I listened to the seven candidates, on Saturday afternoon, copying each other in their supposed devotion to the sectarian national prayer, the Angelus, from which they claim they get 'comfort', I realised what a mess this presidential election has been. They did not all mean what they said.

What their collective instinct was guiding them towards was not faith in the Angelus prayer. It was the danger of upsetting the vote of devout Catholics whose Christian beliefs are still part of our political life and, indeed, part of our Constitution. So the seven declarations were not about prayer. They were about votes. Read More...

Top three candidates still have questions to answer

The Irish public should have serious misgivings about the electoral credentials of the leading presidential candidates who have either misled voters about their political backgrounds or allegiances, downgraded major aspects of their political views and attitudes or, in the case of Martin McGuinness, rejected responsibility for terrorist atrocities.

These urgent and immediate issues face us in the final 10 days. They concern the levels of truthfulness, transparency and, especially, trustworthiness that should define anyone worthy of election. Read More...

A president fit for office should be fit for purpose

We have reached a significant point in the presidential election with all candidates stretched in their campaigning and with the public increasing its demand for openness and transparency. As I see it the situation is something along the following lines.

Three of the candidates have discredited their standing and their position in the campaign by evading the truth, deliberately misleading the public, refusing to be transparent and dismissing as irrelevant the public and media reaction to these shortcomings. They are David Norris, Sean Gallagher and Martin McGuinness. There are additional offences that can be laid against them. Read More...

Economy with facts will quench the Dragon's fire

Sean Gallagher's picture of himself and Fianna Fail is now being amended in the light of facts previously muddied. He says on his campaign website -- or did until this weekend -- that he was 'a sporadic' party member.

Sporadic means 'occurring only here and there, separate, scattered'. Yet his Fianna Fail career was full-on and privileged. It lasted much longer than he says; it was anything but sporadic. Read More...

Norris must quit race for the Aras ... and here's why

David Norris should withdraw from the presidential contest in the light of his refusal to be transparent about the letters. He should also do it on account of the views he holds on the delicate legal issue of sexual relations between an adult and a minor. Norris's view is that the principle of consent should apply.

His arguments on the letters do not stand up, either in Irish law or in Israeli law. He has already released a very long letter. Are we to surmise that it was the least damaging and that this is the reason for releasing no more? Read More...