Bruce Arnold

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

Why Phil Hogan needs to get serious about local government reform

The State's delay over local government reform is inexcusable and the delay in acting on this renders Phil Hogan's continued uncertainty and prevarication anything but dynamic. No one doubts that reform is needed. Putting a shape on it is his responsibility and he has yet to fulfil it. So far, his dilatory approach has been inexcusable.

One can have little doubt that most members of the Government share with him reservations about the drastic action needed. Ministers who seek to engage in reform -- on health, about taxation, over the Croke Park Agreement -- run into storms of protest. Even those who talk about reforms, as Mr Hogan has done pretty well endlessly, see the tides and storms of protest gathering, and they hesitate. Read More...

The new enticement of more bailout money and the easy option of living in debt will further ruin us

What if Mr Mario Draghi's solution is the wrong one? It has happened before. In fact, all the solutions to the euro crisis so far have failed, which is why we now have the impossible offer of 'unlimited' bond buying, with a penal clause attached, that the bankrupt countries whose bonds will be bought have to sign up to for extensions to their terms of servitude.

The bond buying will not be unlimited. The use of that word by Mr Draghi was a deliberate mistake, but a beguiling one, and ensured the positive reception his press conference received. Mr Draghi is not going to buy unlimited amounts of worthless bonds from Spain and Italy. Our bonds are slightly different. They have the semblance of negotiability because we are being such "good boys" and will helpfully shoulder more high interest debt in order to co-operate with this latest scheme. In so doing we will contribute to what one commentator described as Mr Draghi's "three-card trick": the money will flow in a circle between the European Central Bank, the distressed banks that are being helped yet again, and the bankrupt states whose continued membership of the euro is being artificially sustained at an impossible cost to Europe if the process is 'unlimited'. Read More...

Lenihan's letters appear to only vindicate Europe

Prior to his death it was Brian Lenihan's belief that the letters sent to him from the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, would vindicate him in the minds of the Irish people. They would explain his role in the 2010 bailout and the pressures he was put under.

He held back from publishing them for honourable reasons, saying that he was reluctant to release them during a period when Michael Noonan was negotiating for a reduction in the interest rate. He explained to those close to him: "It might affect what they (the present Government) are trying to do in Europe. So, I won't let them out." Read More...