Author Archives: Dan Boyle

From top: Met Eireann’s Evelyn Cusack and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after a meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group during Storm Emma; Dan Boyle

The politics of the Beast from the East seem to have worked quite well for the government. Politics is a small component of responding effectively to an emergency.

The actual heroes were front–line workers who ironically enough are often further away from the public eye.

I found myself snowed in, pleasantly and enjoyably, at a hotel in Tallaght. Most of the other guests were ambulance workers, most civil defence volunteers. Whether as paramedics, or in running a radio centre, I found their presence there comforting and decidedly pride evoking.

Emergency plans get tweaked from time to time, benefitting from the appropriate finessing of long term planning along with lessons learned.

The political element of emergency response is quite properly small and narrow. It largely revolves around communication, giving information, offering reassurance, bolstering public confidence.

In this 24 hour multi media World, the metaphorical political holding of the baby fills most politicians with dread. The odds on becoming the face of any public information campaign, and not getting associated with negative news become extraordinarily low.

The protection of the Gulf Stream has really only deserted us on four occasions over the last seventy years or so – 1947, 1982, 2010 and now the year of the Beast of the East 2018.

We should remember that Ireland is on the same latitude as Hudson Bay in Canada, The Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and the southern reaches of Alaska. Without the Gulf Stream, the more extreme wintery conditions we experienced last week would be far more typical.

The folk memory of 1947, with the number of waterways which ended up frozen, would seem to rate the Irish Winter Olympics winner, although each of the four climate lapses carry with them unhappy, uncomfortable memories.

The political consequences of 1947 were probably negligible. The then excitement of a new party breakthrough of Clann na Poblachta, combined with a public lethargy with a Fianna Fáil government in power since 1932 (with a cabinet of Civil War participants), meant that a lousy winter would have been the last thing on most voters minds.

The media created the sobriquet ‘The Minister for Snow’ for the then Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party, Michael O’Leary, in 1982, for which he never forgave them. As the country went into a ten day lockdown, O’Leary struggled to receive political support especially from his own political party. It would probably was a contributing factor that led to his resignation as Labour leader, followed perversely by his joining with Fine Gael.

John Gormley inherited the Minister for Snow in 2010. He too found himself sidelined by cabinet colleagues, particularly his Fianna Fáil colleagues. The cabinet sub committee dealing with national emergencies was meant to be jointly chaired by Gormley and FF Transport Minister, Noel Dempsey, who lingered too longingly on a foreign sun holiday.

The current Minister, Eoghan Murphy, has not been seen to be affected. For that he should be grateful. Any real gratitude should go the front line people I had the privilege of meeting in Tallaght.

For politicians no pain is gain. The irony for this government is that in trying so hard in overselling its own achievements, while using considerable public funds, will probably see no real benefit from having had a good freeze.

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

Top pic: Rollingnews


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

From top: Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál MacDonncha (left)  is presented with the first car registered in the capital in 2018 at The Mansion House last month; Dan Boyle

For many it won’t rate as an issue of any significance. Most may even see it as an exercise in frippery. The idea of an additional paid political position, will be instinctively reacted against, possibly by a majority of voters.

But it shouldn’t be. The idea of directly elected mayors has the potential of being the first significant positive change in local government since the inception of the State.

If that sounds overblown, it should be remembered that we have never really had local government in Ireland. When compared to the forms of local government that exist in most democratic countries, what we have in Ireland is little more than local administration.

Too few powers are developed from central government. The few powers that exists locally are horribly distributed between those who are elected (but have few if any decision making powers) and those who are appointed (who make most of the decisions but have little or no accountability for those decisions).

Directly elected mayors won’t of themselves solve the problems of Irish local government but it would be an important first step in the right direction.

Irish local government since 1922 has been an unholy mess. All changes that have occurred to the system have been to lessen and weaken its effectiveness. Part of this has been because the attachment to the county system, largely through GAA loyalties, has made change near impossible.

Even the affection ‘Lord Mayor’ is redolent of auld decency. Why a republic feels the need to hold onto such titles has always been beyond me. In Cork the questioning of the title provokes charges that the memory of MacSwiney and McCurtain is being tarnished.

The failure to equalise votes in local authorities across the country, has meant the strength of local councillors in the West of Ireland has always held greater sway than their Dublin counterparts.

It may seem counter intuitive but in voting for directly elected mayors, voters in Cork and Dublin will have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Of course none of this will mean anything if national government does not devolve more of the nationally made decisions, those that should be more properly made at local level. Most of the decisions made nationally in areas such as health, education, policing or transport, can be more easily or more effectively made locally.

The answer to better local government in Ireland is not only more local decision making with greater accountability, it is also more elected councillors on more elected councils.

One the greatest myths perpetuated, largely by civil servants at the Department of Local Government, is that Ireland has been over represented at this level of government.

Ireland not only has the weakest system of government in the democratic World, it also pro rata has weakest representation in terms of numbers.

We should re-introduce town councils as district councils. We should reverse the ill thought and ill managed amalgamations of Limerick and Waterford councils.

Most importantly of all we should devolve all necessary powers to the lowest effective level.

It isn’t what is wanted by national politicians, civil servants or officials in local authorities. It is, though, what we need as a country.

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

Top pic: Rollingnews


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

From top: TK Whitaker; Leo Varadkar; Dan Boyle

I wonder how T.K. Whitaker would have looked at the publication of the Ireland 2040 document. I suspect as the instigator of the first economic plans to have been given effect in this country, he would have done so wryly.

In the late 1950s, early 1960s, there would have been no requirement for spin. Then Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, saw RTÉ (Radio the single, only broadcasting organ, until the arrival of RTÉ Television in 1962) as a government broadcasting service.

It is in the spin that the first and second economic plans should be contrasted with the largely unsuccessful plans that have followed.

Spin is that which marks the latest incarnation as being one of the more dubious attempts at national planning in recent times.

Whitaker’s plans were similarly vague on details to that shown in Ireland 2040, but could not be faulted as being so lacking in vision.

The first and second economic plans sought to have Ireland face forward into a wider World in ways that were not only to change Ireland’s economy, but also its society.

Whitaker took the country away from De Valera’s somewhat green, agrarian, but ultimately unsuccessful economy.

What and where is the vision in the Ireland 2040 document? If it exists at all, it can be defined in a fairly naked desire of Fine Gael to be in government for much of that ongoing timeframe.

Where the Whitaker plans were a bold attempt to bring the country into line with the global 20th century economy, the same can’t be said of Ireland 2040, which in no way can be seen to be a sincere attempt to reposition the Irish economy, to the rapidly changing circumstances of today.

Paradoxically just as Whitaker’s plans were attempts to take Ireland away from De Valera’s 19th century green idyll, Leo’s wants to Go Green 21st century style, or at least give the appearance of doing so.

The spin for Ireland 2040 suggests that 20% of the capital envelope will be spent on measures to counter act climate change. This is hugely dishonest spin.

Disregarding the fact that Ireland’s carbon emission figures have gone off the charts during the last seven years of Fine Gael led government, the contradictory capital commitments in this plan show a government that doesn’t understand the fundamentals of the problem, much less suggest appropriate remedies.

The additional public transport measures, on the surface, should be welcomed, even if they are sorely lacking in ambition. A government actually committed to dealing with the effects of climate change would by 2040 have the bias in transport spending turned away from roads towards public transport and cycling.

That is if what is included in this plan are actually commitments. It is being suggested that Cork may get a light rail system. Or is it? The plan says that a feasibility study will be carried out to see the competing benefits of a guided bus or a light rail system. This is something that was done ten years ago when The Greens were in government.

I should welcome a commitment towards long term planning. The cynic in me, however, sees this less as a development plan and more as an election manifesto. One that has something for everyone in the audience.

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

Pics: Irish newspaper Archive/PA


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

From top: Michael Lowry with former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and former Taniaste and Fine Gael Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald at the Passing Out Parade in Templemore Garda College, Tipperary in 2016l Dan Boyle

Corporal punishment was made illegal in Irish schools two years after I had completed my Leaving Certificate. Throughout my tenure in the Irish school system, along with tens of thousands of others, I ran the risk of being hit with some class of implement that would instantly be turned into a verb – a cane, a belt, or a leather. All in the name of the Irish educational system.

One particular teacher of mine (thought outside of the school as being quite an urbane man) would offer students their choice of punishment. They could either have a ‘Clocker’ or a ‘Lowry’, dependent on which side of his hand he would use. If I remember rightly the Lowry was the backhander.

This unwelcome memory popped into my head when I was recently driving through Tipperary. Flicking around on the radio I heard a local TD being interviewed on the TIPP FM morning show.

The political existence of Michael Lowry is a proverbial slap in the face of any urbane, Irish liberal. On this programme the interviewer was polite and deferential. Lowry gave the impression of being composed, almost statesman like.

On the surface at least it could be understood why a sufficient number of Tipperary voters want him to continue to be their Dáil representative.

He was arguing for a business as usual approach for a Bord na Mona bog in Littleton in the heart of his constituency. His tone of voice conveyed plausibility, even if the content of what he was saying was utter nonsense. When he mentioned ‘eco-tourism’ as part of the bog’s future, I just burst out laughing.

It is now almost a quarter of century since he had to resign as a government minister. Since then he has been pursued and prosecuted by several agencies of the State, all the while remaining as a member of our national parliament. This is both a tribute to his own resilience, but also an utter condemnation of the tortuous nature of our judicial process.

I believe we have long gone past a time when we need to create laws that restrict the right to be a political candidate, when certain conditions and circumstances exist.

I would go further and allow the public the right to convene recall elections, with the Houses of the Oireachtas also being able to permanently expel members after an appropriate but significant vote.

If such powers existed in the past people like Liam Lawlor and Ivan Callelly would not have been able to hang on.

It should be sufficient for the moving of a court action by the Director of Public Prosecution (an independent nonpartisan law officer) on the potential breach of law, to require any legislator to vacate their office.

There are others in the current Oireachtas whose application of tax and social insurance payments, would also be in the frame of having such legislation applied to them.

Of course this legislation could be abused by future governments, targeting individuals in order to strengthen their position. I would be confident that sufficient safeguards could be built into the process.

We might even call such a law ‘The Lowry Law’. It would allow me to remember the name positively, and for something other than the back of my less than urbane teacher’s hand.

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

Top pic: Rollingnews


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

From top: Nigel Farage arrives at Trinity College, Dublin ahead of last weekend’s Irexit conference; Dan Boyle

If ever a picture spoke a thousand words it was that photo of crombie wearing Nigel Farage, with his Wolf from the Three Little Pigs swagger, on his way to the recent Irexit meeting.

The demographics of those who attended there were as telling. Overwhelmingly male in its composition, the men in question seemed made up of a weird coalition of an embittered older cohort, nestling with an angry and disappointed group of younger men.

The unifying theme was a common desire to shake collective fists at a society that had let them down. A society, that all too slowly, has been leaving behind its domination by a male, monochrome, homogenous group, the residue of whom now see themselves as society’s new victims.

The liberal in me thinks we should listen more to these tormented souls; seek to understand the landscape they inhabit. The social realist in me feels that the more time we give to placate the hate filled and the small minded, the more they are likely to believe that their views have validity.

The illiberal me is winning this internal argument. I have spent most of my adult life wishing such people, and their distorted views, away. They have lingered, and have re-established themselves, through misappropriating the language of freedom and tolerance. They seek freedom for others to be less free than them. They seek tolerance to be intolerant of others.

They seek to explain way their inadequacies through the blaming of others. Those of different skin tones; of different cultural backgrounds; of different religious or political beliefs; of different gender.

They fear difference wishing only to celebrate sameness. Only the tools of their celebration are hate and anger.

They find a solace with being among their own kind. Being in a collective emboldens their belief they are among ‘right thinking’ people. They are transferred, instantly, into a rotisserie of racists, a harem of homophobes, a melange of misogynists. At their most dangerous they become a falange of fascists.

As with most bigots what they often most hate about others, is especially what they hate about themselves – a perverse form of self loathing.

I no longer have the patience to be nice to those who believe niceness to be a weakness. I don’t want to hold any truck with anyone who seeks to divide and compartmentalise.

I live in a community within a city, part of a region, part of a nation, part of a wider World. A planet. All of which is, and should be shared.

Ignorance needs to be challenged, confronted and faced down. We should never condone its existence or that of hate. We should never give succour to any discredited version of a mythical past, or plans for a hateful future.

With all due respect to the late Spike Milligan, this Goon Show has run for too long. If the Goons participating in this version insist on following the likes of Nigel Farage, then he and they should prepare for some walking backwards (for Christmas) across the Irish Sea.

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

Top pic: Reuters


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

From top: Pro-choice protesters challenge a Pro Life demonstration on O’Connell Street in 2016; Dan Boyle

The starter’s pistol is at the ready. We are close to another bout of our real national sport of moral breast beating.

The 2018 event may yet be seen as definitive, although we have been here before particularly during the two Divorce referenda of 1986 and 1995.

Those campaigns began fuelled by a liberal giddiness, informed by favourable opinion polls, that proved themselves totally divorced from the reality of the eventual results.

We live in a changed Ireland than that which existed in 1983. That was the time of my first vote in a constitutional referendum. I had already voted in three general elections. I was only 21 years old.

It was a dubious privilege to have voted in that first referendum. Almost 35 years later, where after changing demographics more than half of our existing electorate did not participate in that vote, the time has long since passed to revisit the question.

It reminds me of that couplet from Eric Bogle’s ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda‘, about the First World War, though applicable to any conflict situation.

“The young people ask what are they marching for?

And I ask myself the same question”

Along with most my friends I voted No in 1983. I couldn’t, and still can’t, grasp the concept of the equal value of life of a mother with developing life within her womb. It seemed to me, and to us, unbearably cruel that a woman who had been raped would be expected to carry a resultant pregnancy to full term.

Since then I’ve grown to despise the Eighth Amendment and what it represents.

It has been a piece of constitutional virtue signalling that has caused the State to turn its back on thousands upon thousands of Irish women, forced to flee to a neighbouring jurisdiction to deal with their crisis pregnancies. These women were often on their own and all lacked any type of appropriate support.

The lines are being drawn now for what must be a definitive battle in this war. As with previous battles the chief weapon will be fear.

For those on the Pro-Life/Anti-Choice side of the aisle, the fears seem to be of an extraneous bent, based on projecting a dystopian future of eugenics and euthanasia which beckons.

Those on the Pro-Choice/Anti-Life(?) side of the argument have not, either, been beyond pulling emotional heart strings.

The anniversaries of the Kerry Babies saga, as well as the horrendous death of Ann Lovett in Granard, have somewhat cynically been used to hammer home the choice angle.

That said the fear of what has definitely happened in the past will always supersede the fear of what might, but probably won’t occur in the future.

The role of a Referendum Commission will be vital in this campaign. To control emotional overspill, that risks the peeling of truth, a firm Commission needs to define the narrow confines in which the debate is being held.

It needs to be especially vigorous in ensuring that the arguments being made are truthful and are medically and scientifically based.

It would be nice to believe that the arguments about to be made, will be made in a calm and informed atmosphere. I wouldn’t be holding my breath though.

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



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

From top: Dan Boyle and Micheál Martin, Christ the King Parish Hall, Turners Cross, Cork, 1986; Dan Boyle

Our family homes are little more than 100 metres from each other. The two year age difference between us might as well be a generation gap. We didn’t hang out and had different groups of friends. But we did similar things – played soccer in the cramped square in O’Connell Crescent; took part in Nemo Rangers street leagues.

We did serve simultaneously as altar boys at the iconic Christ the King Church in Turners Cross. For both of us, I suspect, it was less of a spiritual journey and more for the want of something to do.

My Dad was chair of the local ‘Joe Murphy’ cumann of Fianna Fáil. He nominated and supported Micheál, in his successful attempt to be elected, to what was then Cork Corporation. It was a political debt Micheáll has always been prepared to acknowledge.

While he became a city father I engaged in community activism. As a local councillor he told me I was brave to be challenging both church and state when suggesting that each had a role in providing facilities for the area.

After an unsuccessful attempt to be elected to Dáil Éireann in 1987, he eventually succeeded in 1989. Once elected he did what he had to do to get noticed, such as his befriending of the Haughey children.

I was elected, as a lone Green, to Cork Corporation in 1991. Within five months l found myself as a swing vote necessary to pass a budget and keep the council in existence. Michéal negotiated on behalf of Fianna Fáil.

He allowed himself a wry smile when the Fine Gael Lord Mayor of the time, Dino Cregan, sought to smoke me out by stating “We’ll have no Gregory deals deals here,”.

Micheáll ascended into cabinet in 1997. I thought the procession through Turners Cross, that evening, a bit redolent of another Ireland, but I did not begrudge him his success.

In Government he acquired a reputation for avoiding decisions. The principle seeming to be that firm decisions risk alienating those who disagree. His response, invariably, was to commission a report or to establish a committee.

History will be the judge of whether his ban on smoking in public places will outshine his setting up of the Health Service Executive.

In 2002 I succeeded, after several attempts, in being elected to Dáil Éireann. In sharing the constituency the unspoken convention was to co-operate rather challenge, even with Micheál being a Minister and my being an opposition TD.

In 2007 I found myself negotiating a programme for government with Fianna Fáil. Micheál would have rung me a number of times then. I’m still unsure whether the calls were for his personal benefit, or if he was meant to be something of back channel.

The arrival of the Trioka brought that government to an end. Micheál timed his exit well, just as Brian Cowen was seeking to pack the cabinet with cronies. The following morning’s Irish Times ran a picture of me talking to Micheál, just inside the gates of Leinster House, my arms outstretched in a WTF pose.

Micheál went on to lead FF into its worst ever election defeat. The way he has stuck to his task since has been admirable. This is despite collecting unwanted records along the way. Michéal remains the only FF leader never to have been Taoiseach, and he is the longest standing FF leader of the opposition.

With these epithets, along with naturally cautious nature, his statement on repeal of the Eighth amendment seemed surprising.

It may yet be the making of him. To seem to go against his parliamentary party and membership, undoubtedly he risks his position as leader. Paradoxically, in undertaking this decisive act of leadership, he may just have given his party a more sustainable future.

He must realise that as Ireland becomes more urbanised, it also becomes more liberal. Dragging his party into the 21st century could become his defining political act.

I wish him well on that endeavour, while continuing to disagree with him politically on many, many things.

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


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

From top: Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff; Dan Boyle

One of the extra curricular activities I most enjoyed, while in Leinster House, was being a member of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly. This brought together elected representatives not only from the Houses of the Oireachtas and Parliament, but also from the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies, as well as representatives from The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

For many who took part it was seen as something of a jolly. Getting away to some nice location where the vicissitudes of normal politics could be hidden. Those appointed seemed an often curious mix of those on their last political lap, blended with many who would never likely achieve ministerial position. My sore thumb status was amplified by being the only Green from any of the parliamentary bodies.

I thought, and still think, that it has greater potential than it has shown. I took it seriously enough to involve myself in one of its sub-committees, which sought to compare and contrast the approach taken to social disadvantage in the various jurisdictions.

The sub-committee was chaired by an extraordinary man, Alf Dubs. Now Lord Dubs, he had been a junior minister at the Northern Ireland office, working with Mo Mowlam. He had a far better understanding of the situation there than most of those who were members of the assembly.

His personal story was even more incredible. An orphaned refugee at the end of the Second World War, he has in recent years, used his experience to embarrass the Tory government to address the fate of similar children now found in the Calais refugee camp. It was a privilege to have worked to have worked with a person of such calibre and dignity.

Barry McElduff, as an MLA, was also a member of the Assembly. I write that not to contrast Barry with Alf, only to illustrate the range of people who were involved. I found Barry to be friendly, jovial, if not particularly deep.

As with many Sinn Féin representatives he seemed wedded to an ideological version of history. To these there was to be no veering from the belief that a just war was waged in Northern Ireland over that horrible 30 year period.

To the many, so many, innocent victims of that violence, there hasn’t been a tinge of regret. Various mantras get repeated ‘Terrible things happen in wars’ or ‘We need to look forward not back’. When these trite cliches fail to convince, argument falls back into a seemingly endless well of whataboutery.

Black humour sustained many individuals and communities through those awful times. No amount humour can repackage those events into a guilt-free future.

This will be Mary Lou McDonald’s biggest obstacle. Sinn Féin’s glass ceiling will be double, if not triple, glazed. Until the party can present a worst critique of itself than its opponents do, it will always find itself carrying that wee bit more additional political baggage.

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


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

From top: Paddy Harte and Peter Sutherland; Dan Boyle

This week has seen the passing of two Fine Gael luminaries, Peter Sutherland and Paddy Harte. Much like Marc Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ I write to praise them, because I feel they are deserving of respect for doing what they did, in the way in which they so did.

There are many, many things on which I would never be in agreement with Fine Gael about. The party’s general approach to economic and social issues brings about, to me, a more unequal society. It pays little more than lip service to environmental issues. Its attitude to policing and general justice issues ranges from the aggressive to the possessive.

The party, for some reason best known to itself, believes itself to be morally superior to Fianna Fáil. It isn’t.

These caveats I add in anticipation of those who are about to disagree with me, that to like someone, respect them or to acknowledge some of their achievements, is somehow to bend towards their political worldview.

It is a shared characteristic of both the Rabid Right and Rigid Left that any deviation from the standard orthodoxy must see the heretics challenged.

For my part I have no difficulty in saying that Peter Sutherland performed well as a European Commissioner. The Erasmus programme is a singular achievement. As a Attorney General he was right to state that inserting the Eight Amendment into The Constitution, would ultimately turn out to be self defeating.

Would I be a fan of his work at GATT/WTO? No I would not. The emphasis in these agreements sees the sustainable welfare of people, if at all, then as very much a distant afterthought. However, I do believe that his subsequent work on immigrants rights was formed on his belief for a more inter related, more inclusive World.

Was I impressed by his chairmanship of Goldman Sachs, or his board membership of several banking organisations? Again not really. He was a creature of his circumstance. I don’t believe there is any inconsistency in not liking what someone does, whilst admiring the ability they have in doing what they do.

Paddy Harte was a gruff conservative. He had left front line politics before I had entered it. I doubt there would many subjects of public policy on which we would have found ourselves in agreement.

He was implacably opposed to the murderous campaign of the IRA. As a TD for a border constituency that was a difficult opinion to hold. Nevertheless he succeeded in being elected time and time again, even if he never really troubled the higher echelons of national politics (he briefly was a junior minister in the early 1980s).

What I most admired him for was the work he did with Glenn Barr (once of the Ulster Defence Association) in bringing proper recognition to all the Irishmen who fought in the First World War.

History tells us that WW1 was a fruitless, unnecessary carnage brought about by the dying embers of empires. For many who participated they truly believed they were fighting for the rights of small nations, especially the right to become one.

Paddy Harte should be given enormous credit in helping bring the memory of these men back from the historical cold. As does Glenn Barr, whose own death in October 2017 seems to have gone largely gone unacknowledged.

I intend to continue my eccentric and eclectic approach to politics. I will still admire the skills, abilities and achievements of those with whom I vehemently disagree. Damn me.

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

Pics: RTÉ/Rollingnews


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

From top: A Mini car driving through flood water in Salthill, Galway, as Storm Eleanor hit Ireland on January 2; Dan Boyle

Two days into the new year brings with them two storms. There is no novelty in recognising that the only predictable thing about the Irish weather is its very unpredictability.

Now is not the time for smugness. Sadness and justified anger should be the predominant emotions. Climate Change has been researched, recorded and its effects have been anticipated for more than forty years.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned. The antipathy of a vocal, ignorant and sadly far too powerful minority, hasn’t helped. When I see how Conor Skehan, retiring chair of the Housing Agency, views the issue he was supposed to working towards solving, then it isn’t surprising to realise that he is also a climate change sceptic.

We sadly still live in a world, where to oppose change, or to seek to maintain unfairness or injustice, is a better passport to seek position, and thus the ability to hinder progress, in what we dare call the ‘developed’ World.

If it hasn’t been outright opposition, it has been the push it down the road attitude, that has most permeated official responses to threats to the natural environment, and to the planet itself.

I have myself leaning, against my better instincts, more and more towards direct confrontation against those troglodytes, through whose antipathy or indifference, have helped bring us to where we are.

I am not going to listen to statements like “we’re too small a country to make a difference” anymore. Our carbon emissions per head of population is one of the highest in the World, and they are going in the wrong direction.

Nor do I want to hear that there are more important priorities. Every important economic and social priority can be and should be linked to how we deal with climate change.

We should be building new houses designed to prevent future fuel poverty. We should be creating energy through maximising our renewable resources, also enhancing community benefit, wherever possible through community ownership. We should be properly subventing our public transport systems to help prevent the number of single person vehicle traffic.

Each one of these policies initiatives would result in win win scenarios that would work towards meeting our climate change commitments, and improve the state of our economy. If done as part of a holistic suite of policy measures, we may even see better health outcomes.

It isn’t accidental that it is among right wingers where climate change denial is most prevalent. Conservatives want to maintain the status quo. They are most protective of the vested interests in whose interest the status quo is being maintained.They fear, rightly, the redistributive aspect of climate change policies.

The sharing of proportionate responsibility between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations, would see ‘developing’ World countries increase their capacity and thus improve global trade.

Within developed and developing nations redistribution of environmental responsibility must be used as a trigger to achieve better equality in society.

For those whose instant response will be why the Greens didn’t achieve this in three and a half years in government, consumed with dealing with an economic collapse, I can only say:

You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. If not, we might become a bit more than mildly agitated.

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

Pic: Galway Latin Quarter


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.