Two Steps Backwards One Step Forward


From top, left to right: Taoiseach Leo Varadakar, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Josepha Madigan and new Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at Government Buildings inin November; Dan Boyle

It says a lot for most people’s expectation for 2017, that the minimal hope was that it wouldn’t be an extension of 2016.

That was a year that will be seen as a ground zero for democracy, beaten by its biggest contradiction that the best decisions get made by the largest number of those who choose to participate on a given day.

Before I release a chorus of ‘you lost get over it’, I have to admit I still am unaware of any better system. Neither should it be seen that disgust at the triumph of reactionaries be is wholehearted, unquestioning support of any alternative. I’ve been on the losing sides of too many such decisions to believe that it is the system that is at fault.

Where it has fallen down in recent years, has been the strength that self interest has held over any sense of the common good. It has also been a time when so many chose not to inform themselves, relying on instinct in making their decisions. Ignorance has become the preserve of the alt realists.

2017 has seen something of a fight back by the alt. ignorant. Wilders in The Netherlands and Le Pen accumulated large amounts of votes, but nothing like the totals that had been feared.

Although by the end of the year we have the Freedom party in government in Austria, with the AfD (Alternative for Germany) winning one in every seven votes in the German general election.

In that election the immigration scare was played to its highest. The psephological graphs produced on that election showed, that just as with Brexit and Trump, those with least interaction with immigrants, were most likely to have that as the basis for making their votes.

In our neighbouring isle Brexit Britain has become a year long pantomime. Its surreal nature being enhanced by the Democratic Unionist Party who now seem to be providing the intellectual ballast for its future basis.

As a lily livered liberal, long committed to the idea that the notion of Irish unity cannot occur but through the winning the hearts and minds of the Unionist community in the North of Ireland, I find the notion of continuing to placate the DUP component of that community to be completely unrealistic and more than a little infuriating.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong with aspiring to the idea of an United Irish state being realised within my lifetime (I am ten years older than Simon Coveney!). It will never be done through coercion nor should it be ever be apologised for.

On the other side of the pond The Donald gave full vent to his anarcho-capitalist routine. The hope is that his incapacity to act in any way honestly or honourably, will eventually catch up with him. However he may yet survive his entire term, during which he will be able to cause untold havoc.

This year saw the transfer of power within Fine Gael and by extension within Government Buildings. Enda had been a somewhat lucky general. Despite an almost Trump like attachment to the truth, and a lack of willingness to initiate anything, he was there when things happened.

His successor, Leo Varadkar, would prefer if very little happens. He’s unlikely to be fooled by distracting opinion poll ratings. He should have learned the lesson of Theresa May’s bolt to the nation in the UK.

An Irish general election still seems likely sometime next year, as it seems unlikely that Fianna Fáil would want Fine Gael to go to the country on foot of what will be presented as a giveaway budget. When that election gets called it will be more about housing and healthcare than any curiosity with the novel.

Before that we will have again our national obsession over abortion. At this remove it looks like the 1983 insertion into the Constitution may finally have overstayed its questionable welcome. The campaign will, sadly, open many wounds. It may be ugly. One more bout of ugly might have to be endured, if we are ever have sanity on this issue.

At the very least in 2018 we should try to move further from the hate filled societies created by events in 2016. The movement will be slow and small, but should be in the right direction.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


Dan Boyle’s new book ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.

73 thoughts on “Two Steps Backwards One Step Forward

  1. Charger Salmons

    Brexit Britain a year-long pantomime,you say ?
    Pull the other one Cinderella Boyle.
    Parliament voted to trigger Article 50 with an over-whelming majority of 372.
    In the General Election 85% of the electorate voted for parties committed to respecting the referendum results and leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union.
    The EU (Withdrawal) Bill which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 succeeded in passing through the Commons’ Committee stage with only one defeat – on a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement which the Government had committed to hold anyway.
    By December sufficient progress had been made for the EU talks to move on to stage two – something the Remoaners like the Irish Times predicted would never happen.
    The ‘Brexit bill’ of £35bn is significantly less than what the EU was originally demanding, and the UK would have handed that amount of money over – net – in just three years, had it voted to stay. The equivalent ‘Remain bill’ by 2030 would have been over £120bn.
    And then there were claims Brexit would lead to the break-up of Blighty until the SNP lost 21 out of its 56 seats in the general election when the wheels came off its bandwagon.
    And remember the dire predictions of Project Fear ? Instead UK unemployment is at a 42-year low, UK industrial output up and manufacturing order books at a
    three-decade high, and London continuing to top global financial centre rankings.
    Last week the UK moved up to top spot for the very first time in Forbes’ Best Country for Business rankings for 2018.
    And the so-called Brexit tsunami of jobs leaving the City of London ? – hasn’t happened.
    Sadly Dan you’ve lapped up the one-sided propaganda that’s been spoon-fed to you by a largely supine Irish media which has become little more than a Government shill.
    That or you read The Guardian.
    Brexit means Brexit baby.
    That’s what happens when a government respects the will of the people instead of allowing itself to be coerced into holding another referendum by a crooked French midget.

      1. Charger Salmons

        About as good as a Taoiseach urging his country to vote Yes in a second Lisbon Treaty referendum while at the same time admitting he hadn’t actually read it before the first one.

        1. Ron

          Ha ha. charger salmons you are my favourite thing on Broadsheet. you are spot on with most things you say. but most of all I love how the usual tooty-pooties on here get so worked up having to hear the truth. don’t ever change

    1. Andrew

      No they aren’t really Dan. The problem with most Irish commentators is that they rely on the same few sources to form their opinion. Most commentators also still reference a newspaper like the Guardian as if it’s some kind of impartial paper of record. It has long ceased to be.
      I seriously hope you don’t rely on RTE or the Irish times to tell you the truth.
      Fintan O’Toole’s daily rant about Brexit is embarrassing as is every other second rate columnists getting the boot in to the ‘Brits’
      In less than 5 years we will be holding our own referendum to leave.

        1. Charger Salmons

          No,it’s the Irish Times all the way for me Dan.
          Let’s see know – I reckon there has been just two articles in 2017 which argued in favour of Brexit.
          TWO in a whole year.
          The rest has been an avalanche of lies,distortion,opinion masquerading as fact and just plain stupidity bordering on racism.
          This effort is a real work of fiction.
          How your columnist sat next to a fat Brexiteer in the sauna.

        2. Dan Boyle

          They are all that exist in UK. My horizons, intellectually at least, range far beyond a sadly deluded Brexit media.

          1. Andrew

            Most of the narrative in the UK is quite clearly anti-brexit Dan.
            The actual unwillingness to accept a democratic process is what’s worrying me.
            Try reading both sides if you can. It’s difficult to find I know.
            There are articles out there.
            However, a heavily biased media groupthink is not welcome either.

          2. Charger Salmons

            Sadly the same is true in the United States.
            The overwhelmingly liberal media couldn’t believe it when Trump was elected because rather than speak to Joe Sixpack they had only spoken to themselves.
            Since then rather than examine why the Democrats lost they have simply stepped up their Trump hatred to another level thereby solidifying his support in the Rust Belt.
            Trump will be re-elected in 2020 because of rather than despite the media.

          3. Go A Way

            Actually jusayinlike it will never actually happen
            Just be rebranded in a sad drab and sordid face saving and arse covering exercise

    1. Dan Boyle

      Refuted fact number one – No £35 billion figure has been confirmed. It does not relate to a single, final repayment from the UK to the EU. In all likelihood the UK will continue to pay an annual payment to the EU to access the single market.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Refuted fact number two – The SNP fell from the best Westminster election in Scotland by any political party, to a place where it still holds almost twice the number of seats held by the combined opposition. Support for Scottish independence is showing itself to be quite resilient. The most recent opinion poll shows a greater number of voters favouring Scottish independence within the EU over remaining in a post Brexit UK.

        1. Charger Salmons

          What part of the SNP losing 21 out of its 56 seats at Westminster are you refuting ?
          You do know what refute means don’t you Dan ?

          1. Dan Boyle

            Its the context and your inference I’m refuting. Another Brexit referendum in Scotland tomorrow would still reject Brexit..
            Refuted fact number three – Since the Brexit referendum the UK has the slowest economy in Europe. It’s currency has sunk by 14%; inflation is exceeding 3%. Concentration on the depth of economic deterioration ignores the obvious direction its economy is heading in.

          2. Charger Salmons

            No Dan – you’re not refuting my inference.
            All you’re saying is I think this,that or the other and if there was another referendum tomorrow this is what I think would happen.
            To remind you of what you actually wrote ” You’ve asserted half a dozen ‘facts;. All of which are open to refutation. ”
            What ACTUAL FACTS are you refuting ?

          3. Dan Boyle

            Then tell me why you assert a fact if you don’t want it to have an inference? You want to imply that support for Scotland remaining is the EU is less than it had been. I refute that.

          4. Dan Boyle

            Refuted fact four.- 75000 financial services jobs are due to leave the City of London, a process that has already begun. This is an assertion of report on the anticipated affects (based on current information) produced by the British House of Lords.

          5. Charger Salmons

            What part of this statement implies support in Scotland for remaining in the EU is any less than it was.

            ” And then there were claims Brexit would lead to the break-up of Blighty until the SNP lost 21 out of its 56 seats in the general election when the wheels came off its bandwagon. ”

            It’s about Scottish independence not the EU.

            But in any case Scotland is merely a constituent part of the UK which voted in favour of Leave.

            And you quote opinion polls.Here’s the latest from YouGov.

            (Prefer that Britain stays in or leaves the EU):

            STAY 39 (-5)
            LEAVE 48 (+2)

            Fieldwork 13th-19th December, changes vs 2nd October

          6. Charger Salmons

            Refuted Fact Four.
            ” are due to ”
            ” anticipated ”

            These are not facts Dan.It hasn’t happened.
            You’re making a complete boo boo of yourself now.

            What ACTUAL FACTS are you refuting ?

          7. Patrick

            Your clutching at straws salmon. Boyle has wiped your botty for you. Stand down and stop embarrassing yourself further. You typify why most people don’t learn/grow, because even when they’re wrong and no they’re wrong, they would rather pretend they’re right as a means of saving face even to the point of losing an opportunity to learn or correct themselves.

          8. Dan Boyle

            I don’t know if you know what point you are making about the SNP. The issues of Scottish Independence and EU membership are intrinsically linked.

          9. Dan Boyle

            I use cautious language. Unlike you I’m not an absolutist. It’s acknowledged that 10000 jobs are moving on the day that Brexit. This is assumed even if the City of London gets passporting arrangements which Michel Barnier is insisting they won’t.

          10. Charger Salmons

            Acknowledged by whom ?
            And just because Barnier says something you believe it’s going to happen ?
            You’re simply parroting the Irish government line now Dan and they’re only doing as they’re told by the EU.
            So in that sense not much has changed for the Greens since they were in government.
            Misled over Lisbon,shafted over bailing out the bondholders and still €44billion pound in debt – it’s no wonder the Irish have fallen for the swarthy charms of an exotic sock-wearing snake-oil salesman.

      2. Dan Boyle

        The figure has not been confirmed. It only becomes confirmed in the event of a final settlement. The only agreement is on a formula that will determine this sum. The formula has not been made publicly available.

    1. Dan Boyle

      You live in a sewer do you? If you’re speaking metaphorically would need to be more accurate than that…

  2. Yellow Cheese Dog

    So much liberal butt-hurt in the one article.

    If you thought 2017 was bad you better brace yourself for 2018.

    Some of the biggest progressive heroes are facing the drop.

    (HRC for Uranium One, BHO for his Hezbollah deal, and that’s just for starters).

    And Dan now that you’re promoting eugenics through abortion perhaps you can clarify if you have ever received contributions/donations/money from the daddy of all progressives (the one-time Nazi) George Soros.

    And how much.

    Remember Dan, silence is not an answer.

    1. Dan Boyle

      For a start I said that 2017 was a better year. The rest of post is utterly crazy. I don’t promote eugenics. I don’t like George Soros nor would I take any money. But you given some sense on how ugly the referendum is likely to be.

      1. Yellow Cheese Dog

        Abortion is always ugly Dan. No way to polish that turd: You’re in favour of the deliberate prenatal destruction of human life. How crazy is that?

        Still, you claim to be not on the Soros tit… there may be hope for you yet.

          1. Yellow Cheese Dog

            I’m not the one promoting the killing of unborn human life Dan. That’s the ugliness that you’re promoting.

            You want to promote abortion but you don’t want anybody to know/discuss the truth of it (it ends human life in a most horrific way). But you liberal//progressivs pretend it’s equivalent to getting your teeth cleaned. That’s the real ugliness Dan, the lies you must spin to promote this ‘eugenics as abortion’ movement.

            You speak in Newspeak Dan. Probably why the electorate doesn’t trust you.

          2. Patrick

            I have to say, cheese dog makes a good point (however flippantly). I have noticed over the many debates that have taken place that, so far, there are in fact two different debates going on in two different camps. One talks about abortion as a means of better healthcare for women and the other talks about abortion as a means of destruction of life. To are debating two different things and from my observation it is very much the case that those in favour of abortion do not want to grasp the nettle of the destruction of human life. They would simply prefer to avoid speaking about the subject in any debate. If in those debates these advocates stated that they did understand that a life was being ended in this instance and that their conscience was clear and they were happy that those who would choose to have one could carry whatever legacy that brings emotionally, I would find it easier to reconcile their position. However using extreme examples such as rape as a means to bring about open abortion for up to12 weeks does not add up. Suggesting that this is a major issue for healthcare is again a red herring considering many citizens of this state regularly have to access healthcare abroad (mostly in the UK) for better medical expertise and in some cases expertise that just doesn’t exist here at all. Why are these people not voicing a similar out rage on this issue which effects many more citizens? Abortion (whatever your view) should be contentious and device). How can it not be?

    1. Dan Boyle

      Is that a taunt Taunton? It doesn’t even scratch. If you think the Greens experience in government can be reduced to that, then that really is your problem not mine.

      1. Taunton

        That is how you are perceived big fella, and as you should know, public perception is what counts.

        p.s. Fair play to you for coming on and defending your piece.

  3. some old queen

    God the uglys are out in force today. What is it with these people that they to write in such a sneering biatchy not to mention aggressive manner?

    1. Andrew

      Dan may be sneery, but that is a tone adopted by many. I don’t think he’s aggressive though.
      The other adjective you used is just adolescent.

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