Ask Not Who Is Tolling The Bell

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From top: John Gormley (top), former Government Minister and Leader of the Green Party arriving at the Dail for the Banking Inquiry yesterday; Dan Boyle

Attending the Banking Inquiry with John Gormley on a bill that includes Mary Harney…

Something rings a bell.

Dan Boyle writes:

The quintessential Cork job is currently being advertised. For a giddy few moments I considered applying. St. Anne’s Church in Shandon is looking for someone to manage the bell ringing there. Whoever gets the job would instantly acquire perfect Cork credentials. Although I suspect after a few months of working there a Quasimodo type madness may set into their consciousness.

I’m thinking of this job, as a means of diversion but also as a very laboured literary device to justify the title of this piece. Where I’m sitting I sense that bells, or least things on which bells are attached, if not being rung are certainly being pulled.

I’m in the main committee room in Leinster House 2000. I used to sit around that table thinking I could change the World, or at least make the country a better place to be. Even changing procedures proved impossible.

I’m here at the Banking Inquiry with John Gormley. For some perverse reason the Inquiry has decided he be questioned at the same time as Mary Harney. The previous week The Taoiseach tagged team with Richard Bruton on behalf of Fine Gael. Labour’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’ routine was Joan Burton uncomfortably alongside the rapier wit of Pat ‘Zorro’ Rabbitte. Now the two parties who had been making up the numbers in government, the PDs and the Greens, were being asked to share the one berth.

Of course it was all part of a deliberate choreography. I remembered how a similar thing had happened to me, in the late 1990s during a by-election in Cork. Candidates were invited to participate in a political discussion programme hosted by Frank (Mahon Tribunal) Dunlop and Fergus (I’m not a Spin Doctor) Finlay.

The two presenters sat in the gaps between three strategically arranged couches. In the centre couch sat Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney alongside Toddy O’Sullivan of the Labour Party. To the right sat Sinéad Behan of Fianna Fáil who was with Peter Kelly of the PDs.

I sat on the left, mostly out of shot. With me was the candidate of the Natural Law Party. The inference was clear – this was the mad couch. To make the inference absolutely clear Fergus Finlay turned to me for my first question stating “Wouldn’t it be true to say that the two of you share many of the same policy positions?”

Now The Greens have never had a policy on levitation. I have heard that Labour Party strategists are considering adopting it as one of the better means out their current electoral situation though.

For those who engineer these situations there is an inherent logic to this. Politics is about perception. Only an idealist would think that politics should have depth, coherence or even honesty.

This is the context in which John Gormley is trying to explain. It is for the most part an impossible task. The narrative has developed that The Greens in government were dangerously naive, passive in the face of some of the worst governance the country has ever experienced.

That is narrative as perception. It is a perception helped in its development by The Greens choosing to do their questioning, their proposing and their counter proposing not in any public way, but strictly within the confines of government.

In relation to the Banking Inquiry there isn’t any need to ask who is tolling the bell. They appear obvious in their Quasimodo like grotesqueness. From its inception they have been perched around the bell tower knowing which bodies were to be thrown off. At least that’s my perception.

Dan Boyle is former Green Party TD

Top pic:RollingNews.ie

60 thoughts on “Ask Not Who Is Tolling The Bell

  1. Drogg

    Another classic Dan Boyle piece, it’s wasn’t us it was the PD’s they just want it to look like it was us, your an idiot idealise if you want an honest coherent political system, where not as crazy a fringe group as the Natural Law party.

    1. Drogg

      That was meant to say “Idiot Idealist” but wrote it on the move and it got autocorrected.

  2. Paolo

    Dan, you say that there was a false perception that the Greens were naive and then in the next paragraph show that there were.

    It is a perception helped in its development by The Greens choosing to do their questioning, their proposing and their counter proposing not in any public way, but strictly within the confines of government.

    Which is it?

    1. 3stella

      Dan is such a visionary, I just hope we will blow away his shroud of obscurity and let him beam into a beautiful new days that lie ahead.

      1. rory

        For anyone who doesn’t know about the site linked to above, it is a conservative website that promotes the opinions of Sarah Palin.
        The website was founded by Andrew Breitbart. You can see an example of his outlook in the video below:
        http://youtu.be/LHslkhZWzUQ

        Sorry for the attempt to undercut your comment Odis, but I am genuinely perturbed by the sight of that link on an Irish website.

        1. Joe the Lion

          I’m not I would hardly have expected anything else from that clown

          And you need to get over yourself too you absolute muppet

          1. Joe the Lion

            The people like you Rory who probably profess to be liberal but want to censor Odis right to be an extremely intelligent conservative idiot are far more insidious than the likes of Odis himself who I can readily shoot with my legally held firearm

          2. rory

            Joe why are you saying such awful things to people on this website? You can hurt people’s feelings you know.

          3. Joe the Lion

            Not people, though I hate to nitpick

            Just one card carrying screwball who has been trolling me for weeks because I disagreed with him

          4. Kieran NYC

            No, you got butthurt when I pointed out you trolled the death of those in Berkeley as soon as the story broke by blaming it on alcohol. As if that causes dry rot.

            You can call me ‘retard’ again though if it makes you feel better. Although use of that word just confirms what type of person you are. Have a good long weekend!

          5. Joe the Lion

            No. I didn’t get “butthurt” or troll anyone. I expressed my reasonably held view that while it was sad those kids had died it was probably also partly their own fault to an extent. I mean if there are cars driving fast through a pedestrian crossing would you walk across the stripes anyway? And that would be ok right? Because even if you were run over you’d be happy knowing that that was the “right” thing to do? I’m not enriched by your obsessive infatuation with me Kieran and neither am I flattered by it.

  3. John Cassidy

    Couldn’t agree more Dan. I, for one, wilI never vote FF/FG/Lab again. A seismic shift is needed in Irish politics to restore any faith in the cesspit that it has become.
    What is utterely sickening is that these inquiries and tribunals cost a fortune and all they do is create column inches in papers making people more angry at the status quo, all in the knowledge that NOTHING will be done to prevent it happening in the future.
    I have often thought of not bothering to vote again but you know what? That’s playing into their hands.
    Vote alternative!

    1. JT

      What is the alternative, isn’t politics a lot of posturing, the creation of some kind of identity? Look at SNP in Scotland, they won by creating some sort of nationalistic identity ,a rebranding of socialist democracy , yet their record on education is appalling and they have introduced only once policy that has resulted in the redistribution of wealth. What about the Shinners and their record up North, more rebranding . Would be interested to hear Dan’s thoughts on this ?

      1. Dan Boyle

        Significant difference between SNP and Sinn Féin is that the SNP have shown a willingness and a capacity to govern. A better political culture there as well.

        1. JT

          I echo that sentiment Dan, I did not intend to draw such an unfair comparison between SNP and Sinn Fein, more how Sinn Fein have rebranded their terrorism as social democracy , hoodwinking that section of Irish society that swim in a pool of amnesia.

  4. Sam

    I actually advised Gormley on a few things up to this time, and as I saw it he simply lacked the guts to stand up against FF.

    I’d be more interested in hearing from Patricia McKenna than Dan Boyle on this.

    1. Joe the Lion

      This is nonsense

      He introduced a lot of very severe reforms of the planning laws, all of which were swiftly dismembered by Hogan

        1. Joe the Lion

          It’s complete nonsense Sam though I don’t doubt you’re well meaning. I’ve just refuted it by pointing out that the more able political operator Gormley actually achieved highly significant reforms in spite of bureaucratic red tape and a minority position on government. Your point appears to be that you’d rather he behaved more like a nanny goat?

    2. Dan Boyle

      The problem with public debate in Ireland is that many prefer to listen only to those who pander to their prejudices.

  5. bisted

    …I think Miriam Lords assessment of Gormless at the banking inquiry was spot on and as Dan says -making up the numbers. A pathetic leader of a pathetic party.
    Dan’s bell analogy is particularly apt because the bell has tolled for the greens. And, in hindsight, the ‘mad couch’ placing was fairly astute as well.

  6. Mé Féin

    It’s been a few weeks now and I think these Dan Boyle pieces, which I don’t read, are some kind of trolling by BS.

    1. Dan Boyle

      You respond to something you’re indifferent to? That’s a good use of your time…

    2. Dan Boyle

      You respond to posts on which you’re indifferent? That’s a good use of your time.

      1. Mick Flavin

        I’m on board with the idea of removing that hanging preposition, Dan, but the ellipsis did work better imo; Really hammered home the sarcasm.
        A “Not!” at the end would’ve been sweet.

  7. mike

    Dan, One evening in Autumn 2010, I passed you on Dublins Dame St, heading to the Mercantile with 2 companions, jauntily swinging your proffesorial satchel. Naive, perhaps not, but your air was one of laissez-faire. At the time, country was in a state of chassis, as the dire state of our impending national doom was being unveiled in daily increments. It was as near as I’ve ever come to shouting at a politician in public. But I considered that perhaps you deserved a relaxing private pint at the end of a long day in the Dail communing in private with the FFers to get concessions.

      1. Bonkers

        Dan would love to see you do an analysis of the John Gormley-Phil Hogan saga into bad planning in Kilkenny, Donegal, etc spill us some beanz pls

  8. Mark Dennehy

    “the mad couch”.
    Well, if you think homeopathy should be paid for by the state as a medical treatment, that fluoridation of public water supplies is something we should ban, and that vaccination is something that has questions to answer other than “how long has it been since an Irish child died of measles?”, you pretty much belong on the mad couch. And the path off it ought to be clear, and it’s not writing trolling monologues like this one instead of explaining why you were as useful as a chocolate teapot at a time when competent politicians might actually have prevented an economic disaster which our country will be paying off long after we shuffle off.

  9. Mark Dennehy

    “the mad couch”.

    Well, if you think homeopathy should be paid for by the state as a medical treatment, that fluoridation of public water supplies is something we should ban, and that vaccination is something that has questions to answer other than “how long has it been since an Irish child died of measles?”, you pretty much belong on the mad couch.

    The path off that couch ought to be clear, and it’s not writing trolling monologues like this one instead of explaining why you were as useful as a chocolate teapot at a time when competent politicians might actually have prevented an economic disaster which our country will be paying off long after we shuffle off.

    1. Joe the Lion

      I’m of the view that essentially 95% of the business men and community leader of that era are essentially recovering psychotics.

  10. Dan Boyle

    I thought about whether I should respond to this post, but I found it too ironic not too. You portray the Greens as being irrational while acting irrational yourself. You obsessively and repeatedly make reference to issues that are not current, urgent or prioritised by the Greens. Angry irrationality is not the best method of presenting any truth. I take your comments on competence in the same light. It’s not a quality you seem to exhibit yourself.

  11. Mark Dennehy

    I’m not portraying them as irrational Dan. I’m repeating what their own policies – as expounded on in public by yourself – were when you found yourself sitting on the “mad couch” and which were their policies until after they were ousted from the position of “ablative coalition partner” in government.

    Am I angry at them? Insofar as every person in this country who looks at what that government has done to the futures our children will inhabit is angry at them, yes. But on a daily basis they do not occupy my thoughts.

    Of course, then you come along with these long monologues on here about how you were supposedly competent and effective and rational and at that point it’s rather grating on the nerves, in the same way that some stranger openly defacating on the pavement you’re walking down is grating on the nerves.

    1. Joe the Lion

      Or the kind of folks who leave their trash behind in the park and then complain that the council does not clean it up? Another good thing Gormley brought it was the “chewing gum tax”, making chippers clean up outside their premises

    2. Dan Boyle

      Exaggeration is another feature of irrationality. You fixate and choose to misinterpret and ascribe motivations that don’t exist. You attribute feelings to everyone that for most part are probably no more than indifference. I’m happy to debate but please get some sense of perspective.

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