Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Profile for Neville Bagnall

A member of the Irish Labour Party for close to a decade, I'm classically republican in a civic humanist tradition, with a side serving of middle class socialism. Approaching middle age, internationalist in outlook, I believe in the Rule of Law, but recognise that occasionally the Law is an Ass. Catholic and Protestant, I try and do a bit for Church and Country while flitting between Sligo, Fermanagh and Dublin.

Latest comments from Neville Bagnall (see all)

Neville Bagnall has commented 106 times (0 in the last month).

  1. Comment on Irish Government Minister Attends Belfast Somme Commemoration
    on 2 July 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Nice to see the invite happening.

    It’s a pity to carp, but looking at the b-roll on BBC Breakfast this morning, I thought Minister Kelly’s body language was dreadful.

    I guess he didn’t see the significance. Not sure what that says.

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  2. Comment on Breakthrough on Ireland’s bank debt?
    on 29 June 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Early days, but promising.

    Splitting bank from sovereign debt will go a long way to getting us back into the markets. So might ESM bond purchasing. A second bailout might yet be avoided.

    However, Hollande’s financial transaction tax won’t be welcomed in the IFSC. Plus the implications for the domestic banking sector could be interesting to say the least.

    Germany blinked, and the logjam is shifting, but the other shoe (Bundestag) has yet to drop. The Core-Periphery competitiveness problem remains – Grexit is still hovering about. It’s a good start on the legacy of the SGP and market failures, but the long term structures are as nebulous as ever.

    Still – promising.

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  3. Comment on Meeting the Queen could free up psychological space for Sinn Fein to move into Westminister…
    on 27 June 2012 at 1:20 pm

    A further thought.

    There may be a case for SF to call for a sovereignty referendum under the terms of the GFA.

    When they lose, they could take their place within Westminster on the grounds that they were complying with the sovereign will of the People of Northern Ireland, (in devolved compliance with the will of the People of Ireland as endorsed through the referendums on the GFA).

    Yet still only recognise Westminster and the Queen as those institutions recognised with jurisdiction under the GFA.

    Convoluted? Definitely. But no more than the arguments that made the Army Council the “Government of Ireland”.

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  4. Comment on Meeting the Queen could free up psychological space for Sinn Fein to move into Westminister…
    on 27 June 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t think it’ll happen too quickly, for political reasons.

    But logically, the political dispensation is settled and allows a republican perspective on the NI structures of state. Leaving the challenge of convincing a majority of the electorate of course.

    As for Westminster, republicanism has a long history within it, has never been limited by the oath and republicans and nationalists have always found reasoning and wording to express their dissent:

    On a separate issue it’s always been my understanding that while the Queen is the sovereign, Parliament is sovereign under the unwritten UK constitution. After all, it is Parliament that determines who is the sovereign through the various succession related Acts.

    SF could argue (like other republicans) that since the Westminster Parliament is sovereign, the oath is merely the price of admission and a historically proven dead letter.

    They could further argue that Westminster has devolved the sovereignty of Northern Ireland to the People of Northern Ireland on a permanent basis. Similar to how it will devolve sovereignty to the People of Scotland if the referendum there includes an independence option.

    But of course, just as in 1921, ’27, ’36 and ’48, it’s much more about politics than an unenforceable “loyal oath”.

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  5. Comment on Euro crisis: “I am not sure whether the urgency of this is fully understood in all the capitals”
    on 21 June 2012 at 9:40 am

    By its nature, ECB policy is a blunt instrument, executed through globalised financial markets where the intended effect is often blunted or wholly misdirected by independent actors with their own agenda.

    The ECB is keeping rates low, operating in the secondary markets, and pumping huge amounts of liquidity into the banking system. Yet if anything the supply of money in the peripheral real economies is shrinking.

    I cannot say that fiscal policy is necessarily more effective – there are many examples of badly targeted governmental initiatives.

    Nevertheless, the core issue here that needs to be resolved long term is the competitiveness of the periphery versus the core.

    The core has some fundamental competitive advantages, demographically, geographically, infrastructural, etc. But also socially. Attitude to debt, investment, corporate governance and structure, wage negotiation. For the long term stability of the eurozone, the periphery needs a set of its own competitive advantages.

    I’m not arguing for a one size fits all solution. But the debt mountain in the periphery can only be inflated away or paid down via fiscal transfer (debt forgiveness, interest/investment cost replacement or relatively higher peripheral growth).

    Inflation is only an option for the periphery if it is higher in the core. Since the fiscal policy of the core aims to keep inflation down for export competitiveness, some adjustment of policy in the core would be helpful. Given the weakness of the Euro at the moment, it should not have an overly negative effect on overall eurozone competitiveness.

    Alternatively, or perhaps more correctly additionally, fiscal policy around investment (private and public) could be aligned towards aiding the periphery. But this needs to seep through all levels of society and economy. Core based companies need to be encouraged to seek investment and trade opportunities in the periphery where the fiscal balance favours the periphery in the short to medium term. Likewise there needs to be encouragement for the spending of private income in the periphery.

    You can see how much of an uphill battle all that is. And how, if anything, current news headlines are counterproductive. Witness the fall off in Greek tourism.

    For the stability and health of the european and world economy, fiscal adjustment within the eurozone is essential, both to deal with the cost of the debt mountain, and to address the long term core-peripheral competitiveness balancing act.

    A huge burden of that adjustment will fall on the periphery – to do anything else would be simply to damage the eurozone as a whole in world trade terms. But a viable long term solution requires both pan-european action and core adjustments as well.

    Governmental institutions can only do so much. That much they need to do and quick-fast. However the real battle is for the mental adjustments that have to come in corporate boardrooms and from individual consumers and citizens.

    That is the political challenge. That is the challenge for Merkel, Rajoy, Kenny, et al. Can they speak beyond their own borders? Can they speak to Europe rather than to each other?

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  6. Comment on Euro crisis: “I am not sure whether the urgency of this is fully understood in all the capitals”
    on 14 June 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I agree with Andrew on the meat of the Wolf column.

    I also agree with Wolf regarding the real-politic chances and desirability of Federal and Transfer unions.

    His Insurance union reads to me (as Andrew also seems to pick up) like a variation of a Banking Union, but with perhaps a bit more of a role with regard to sovereign debt and emergency deficit financing. What he doesn’t address though, as far as I can see, is how to solve the indirect loss of market discipline that so worries the Bundesbank.

    Its going to be quite a balancing act to determine what level of fiscal limitation is required for a given level of debt/deficit insurance. I’d like to see some discussion about how retail/commercial splits might impact the implementation of a banking union and how disproportionate private debt/GNP ratios or banking/GNP ratios could be part of the rules and structure.

    I agree that euozone-internal adjustment is needed, but I think Andrew is wrong to concentrate on the ECB’s role in that. Yes it would be better if the ECB wasn’t so fixated on inflation, but German reflation has more to do with German fiscal policy (and behaviour) than the ECB I think. After all the ECB has been tending to loose policy lately, but despite that and an export boom in Germany, inflation is still far too well under control there for the good of the periphery.

    I can see some sort of deal coming together on a banking/insurance union. The adjustment union seems a lot more woolly and hard to achieve. Which I think leaves us stuck with capital investment via the EIB, cohesion funds, etc. Which of course has its own moral hazard, already alluded to.

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  7. Comment on Spanish deal no magic bullet for Ireland after all
    on 12 June 2012 at 1:28 am

    Spain believes it can still fund its budget deficit in the markets.

    Therefore the loan only covers bank recapitalisation.
    However it is being given to the State, and not to the Banks.
    Hence – sovereign bailout, not bank bailout; but private sector not public sector.

    Ireland needed a bailout for both its public and private sector. And the price of the public sector bailout was the Troika programme.

    But it remains to be seen if Spain will be able to remain in the markets (witness the bond yields on Monday). If they aren’t, hello Troika.

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  8. Comment on Trolling: A view from Stephen Fry…
    on 31 May 2012 at 7:10 am

    Bit of a generalisation on Mr. Fry’s part perhaps. But I think we’d all recognise the behaviour he’s talking about.

    One reason I prefer Slugger to some other fora I could mention.

    I think some misunderstandings are probably inevitable at some point along the way. A risk that increases if you can only participate fitfully.

    For me, avoiding anonymity helps. In effect anything I write has to be considered as if I stood up in the middle of my workplace with a megaphone.

    On the other hand:

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  9. Comment on “Having the BBC available in the South gives us a clear link with what politicians in the North are doing.”
    on 30 May 2012 at 1:40 pm


    “The future of widespread superfast broadband provision remains some way off for many in rural areas.”

    You don’t have to tell me. Living 20km from Sligo or Ballina, while I’ve been there I’ve gone from 9.6k dialup through satellite, fixed wireless, adsl and mobile internet.

    DTT and satellite broadcasting won’t disappear overnight, and the public service broadcasters will probably hold on the longest, but everything is pointing to a convergence, particularly for the upcoming generation.

    Its going to be patchy and possibly a rough transition for some of the established players, but the transition is being driven by youngsters in the areas with broadband & advertising and subscription dollars/euros.

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  10. Comment on “Having the BBC available in the South gives us a clear link with what politicians in the North are doing.”
    on 29 May 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Of course there remains the significant spillover of FreeSat coverage, long may it last.

    Nevertheless, the future is TV over IP, and the reign of the proxy servers.

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