Author Archives: Dan Boyle


“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.

“They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

Through The Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll.


Dan Boyle writes:

One thing we can be sure is that Donald Trump hasn’t deliberately styled himself on the character of Humpty Dumpty, however apt that character can be related to his use of language or its veracity.

We can be sure that Trump himself wouldn’t make that link because of how he celebrates the fact that he doesn’t read books. If he were a reader it is probable that a fantasy novel might appeal to him. His superficiality though, would make it unlikely he would want to interpret any allegory attached.

There are some, many, who see genius in Trump’s loose approach to language. His phraseology is deliberate, they believe. It seeks to evoke a response. A response that distorts reality and seeks to distract from the actual.

The alternative, the more obvious, is less likely to be believed. He does want to evoke a response. He wants us to believe that what he is saying is true. That he does so in the most inarticulate, ill informed and insincere manner, is not an affectation, it is how he wants to communicate what he thinks.

It is child like in its application. Perhaps a children’s nursery rhyme character is a fair comparison. A more recent cultural reference might be the character ‘Chauncey Gardiner’ played by Peter Sellers in the film Being There (1979)’. In this he plays a simple soul, who comes close to the US Presidency, by stating inane comments that are taken as pearls of unique wisdom.

How should we respond to this conscious stream of inanity? Are we being trolled? Do we give the unwelcome attention he so desires for his every utterance? If we ignore him does that allow him, and those around him, to construct an alternate reality that comes to be believed by his followers with religious intensity?

The answers might be found in identfying what angers Trump most. He is notoriously thin skinned. He possesses an enormous ego. He hates being contradicted, or being stymied. He is never amused at being made fun of.

These should be our weapons of choice in seeking to overcome Trumpism. Each piece of Fake News (that which we used to call lies) he produces must be countered by verifiable facts that undermine the intent of the myth makers.

Although it could yet be the merry makers who have the best laugh. The Trump team are their own satirical script writers. What they presume to be strength of purpose comes across as a cartoonish approach to government and to diplomacy. Today we giggle nervously. Eventually they will realise we are laughing at them, not with them.

The truth about Donald? There is no truth about Donald.

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

Illustration by Chloe Cushman



From top: Green Party members led by then party leader John Gormley (centre) leaving Government Buildings on January 23, 2011 after informing the Taoiseach Brian Cowen that they can no longer continue in Government: Dan Boyle

As The Maurice McCabe scandal has shown our politics is bedevilled with a belief that the most complex path is that most likely, not so much to deliver truth, but to somehow hold reputation intact

Dan Boyle writes:

It was the fag end of the FF/Green government. The Greens had already decided and had announced that the government was working towards its conclusion.

A Budget and a Finance Bill needed to be passed. It was hoped some other bills might also be approved, but there was no real expectation.

A meeting was organised in the  Taoiseach’s office to arrange remaining government business. Brian Cowen was accompanied by Tony Killeen (not that long a cabinet minister) and the Government Chief Whip, John Curran. On the Green side I made up the numbers along with John Gormley and Eamon Ryan.

After what had been a number of horrendous months, Brian Cowen was in an euphoric mood. The previous evening he had unexpectedly won a vote of confidence from his parliamentary party. His demeanour screamed hubris.

Towards the end of the meeting he announced his intention to fill a number of cabinet positions that had become ‘vacant’. Each of us Greens said that would be a bad idea. It would, in effect, be the announcing of a new government.

Later I found myself appearing on TV3’s Vincent Browne Tonight. I like Vincent. His exposés added to his combative style, have dragged Irish politics to a better place. I was well used to his shtick. Before transmission he would have had decided what the story was, and from that he would not deviate during the programme.

In effect he called me a liar. I admit I somewhat lost it with him, challenging him as to which of us had actually been at the meeting. The story was what was or wasn’t said at that meeting.

There was a Fianna Fáil version of events and there was a Green version. This is what piqued the media’s interest. What I took from this experience was a painful lesson, that the truth mattered less than possessing the most persuasive narrative.

I’m reminded of these events, as with most people, I try to make sense of new Irish politics this week.

We have seen and heard a number of overlapping accounts of what was said by whom when. It’s possible that none of those involved have been telling an unvarnished truth. What is certain is that all involved have been trying to outspin each other, in their efforts to win the most persuasive narrative contest.

What has been most dispiriting about all this, is that none of it should really matter.
What should matter is the fate of one citizen, a public servant, who for trying to do right, has endured years having the essence of his character maligned, through many agencies of this State.

Some of these agencies, formed for the protection of actual victims of our society seem to have, at least peripherally, been actors in the blackest of dark propaganda against a man whose only crime has been the telling of the truth.

Under these circumstances the who said what is of little relevance. Even the idea of a judicial commission versus a public inquiry is something of a sideshow. Either mechanism only guarantees further delay, and certain further distress for Maurice McCabe and his family.

There instead should be an Oireachtas resolution thanking Maurice McCabe for his service, apologising for how he has been treated, and insisting that all those in public positions who sought to stymie his efforts resign.

This won’t happen because our politics is bedevilled with a belief that the most complex path is that most likely, not so much to deliver truth, but to somehow hold reputation intact.

I recently leafed through a newly published book on the FF/Green government. I came across  an admission from a Fianna Fáil person who had been at that meeting with me, that the Green account of what happened was what happened.

It seems that, eventually, truth does become the persuasive narrative.

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




From top: New Yorker cartoon; Dan Boyle

Debates no longer seem to about content. It’s the stylistic difference that now determines whether an argument is being won or lost.

Dan Boyle writes:

The Argument would be one of my favourite Monty Python sketches. Michael Palin having paid for his argument session enters a room to find John Cleese sitting behind a desk.
Apropos of nothing Cleese says “I’ve told you once,”. Palin somewhat taken aback responds “No you didn’t,”.

There then follows a ping pong of Yes I did/No you didn’t, until Palin stops the dialogue to express his annoyance. “This isn’t an argument,” he says. “It’s just contradiction. Contradiction isn’t argument,”.

Cleese pauses, having been countered, he then says “It can be,” after which volleys of No it can’t/Yes it can follow.

I now see this sketch as something of a harbinger of how debased debate would become.
Inconsistency isn’t hypocrisy. Correlation isn’t causation. Dúirt bean liom doesn’t constitute an authoritative source. The only rule on debates that now applies is that there are no rules. We have been Games of Thronesified.

Debates no longer seem to about content. It’s the stylistic difference that now determines whether an argument is being won.

By way of illustration let me identify some of the sparring types I come across. First there is The Anal Retentive. This person only ever has one point which is repeated again and again and again. Even when that point has been proven wrong the first time.

Then we have The College Debater. This person don’t really hold any opinion, but is nostalgic at having almost gotten into King’s Inn, looks for alternative arguments to be made.

A near relation is The Hypothesis Buster. This person detests any statement that is confidently asserted. Their intent is then not only to undermine the confidence in the argument, but the confidence of the argument maker.

These catagories at least continue with the point/counterpoint structure given to us by Aristotle. Much more prevalent these days are those for whom a debate is something of a distraction.

Take The You’re History Buff. This person ignores any point being made in an argument because you are the person making the argument. Each counterpoint has nothing to do with any salient point being made, but is rather a statement of their opinion of you, who you are, or what it is you have been.

A variant of this would be The You’re A Langer Boy. This is a Cork version that has several more offensive counterparts. With this approach each counterpoint again ignores the argument, and instead inserts any and every offensive comment possible.

There is a myriad of other types who would need a book to properly explain. There’s the My God Is Better Than Your God Believer. These people can expound in a theological detailed way on politics or on sports, as much as they do with religion.

I keep getting sucked in by these types. I’ve even been accused of exhibiting many of these traits myself. Of course I would say that is arguable.

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


From top: Mosque shooting in Quebec, Canada on January 29, 2017; Dan Boyle

We have allowed a myth to take hold that doing things differently, and radically differently, is the only alternative to doing things better.

Dan Boyle writes:

We hear a lot of talk these days of us all living in a social media bubble. Our debates, such as they are, being conducted in echo chambers.

It’s something I try to avoid through following people I knowingly disagree with, on the social media platforms I choose to inhabit.Lately I’ve been wondering about the value of this in the seeking of honest, informed debate.

What I’m increasingly coming across is not such debate, but instead the reflection of the echo chambers where these voices are heard constantly in shrill-like tones.

A case in point is the reaction to the recent Quebec mosque killings. I could sense among some of a rightward bent, a palpable elation quickly followed by deflation on learning that a Moroccan who had been arrested, was instead a witness to the tragic event.

At first there seemed, with some, an almost orgasmic delight at the thought of Muslim on Muslim violence, in a country with a humane migration policy. The thought of a young man poisoned by the invective they believe to be truth, will not be accepted nor will responsibility for it be admitted. The failure to confirm the bias gets ignored.

Those on that side of the political spectrum are not isolated in this behaviour. Often they find unlikely bedfellows among the trendy lefties, those who never lose any opportunity to tell us we deserve what we are getting.

In their world view Trump/Brexit, the inexorable rise of hate is an inevitable consequence of the failure of liberal democracy. Clinton would have been worse. Obama was as bad. Them, others – Europe, immigrants, Arabs, Mexicans are the source of all our problems. We have let down, we have been told, those who came to believe these ‘truths’.

Like their hard-right counterparts, what trendy lefties won’t ever countenance is that the failure hasn’t been not to listen or to understand these ‘fears’, but not to confront them much earlier and far more strenuously.

The social media bubble has exaggerated the strifes of the Western World. We are agonising over first world problems. We have allowed a myth to take hold that doing things differently, and radically differently, is the only alternative to doing things better.

This is a bubble which seems to defy physics as well as logic. Bubbles tend to expand before eventually exploding. This is a bubble which traverses inwards, choking us with its contradictions.

And yet I will continue to try to listen and understand. I block infrequently. When I do it is against those whose most frequent form of argument is abuse. I’ve come to learn that time is too precious, in discussing issues of such seriousness, to placate those who refuse to be coherent.

By nature I am an incrementalist. I worry that revolutionary zeal can become misplaced, and even more worryingly that the cloak of revolution can be used to justify the most abhorrent of views.

Trump and his acolytes claim to be revolutionaries. It is justifiable for them to so claim. The problem for the many of the rest of us is that we don’t share the rabid belief that this how the wheel should be spun.

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



From top: Martin McGuinness and Michelle O’Neill; Dan Boyle

The Northern Ireland election campaign will show us the extent to which voters will engage differently, think differently and act differently away from the traditional, sectarian electoral ghettos.

Dan Boyle writes

After only ten months we are to have a another set of elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly. It shouldn’t be happening. An advantage has been identified. This early election is an attempt to take advantage.

As often has been the case in the North’s political history, those seeking advantage should be careful of what they wish for.

One thing that can’t be wished is Martin McGuinness continuing as Deputy First Minister. Observing his health has been a discomfort, not least for him. It’s hoped he can recover well. The illness has afforded him, at least, the somewhat dubious privilege of hearing his own eulogies.

These have been overwhelming positive, often from the most surprising of sources. They’ve mostly been deserved. He has made an incredible journey. His presence will be badly missed in the next Assembly, should it progress.

Not that I believe cuddly, chuckling Martin is an exact representation of who he is politically. He has, however, won considerable public respect for relating an honest account of what he has been and what he has become.

In this he has been far more honest than Gerry Adams. History will be kinder to him as a result.
And there is such a lot of history to assess. Gerry and Martin seem to have been in situ forever.

There may have been good strategic reasons to oversee that long journey from a paramilitary organisation with an attached political wing, to a modern day political party (albeit one that operates under a distinct military discipline).

The price has been to stifle, discourage and sometimes undermine a new generation of leadership. In the Republic there seem to be handful who are happy to wait their turn. In Northern Ireland (apologies The Six Counties), Martin McGuinness’ absence is likely to create a huge vacuum.

This would be a pity. As unnecessary as these elections are, they do at least offer a window opening on normal politics operating there. Away from the usual sectarian fault lines, the possibility exists of debates on standard political fayre.

Talking issues like corruption rather than head counts; accounting for being in government rather than seeking ranking in tribal groupings; having the prospect of an alternative government could all be to Northern Ireland’s advantage.

In last May’s Assembly elections some slivers of light were appearing. Sinn Féin were dealing with being seen as a party of the establishment, being got at by People Before Profit in West Belfast and Foyle (with the welcome election of Eamon McCann). The Greens doubled our representation coming very close to winning a third seat in East Belfast.

The reduction of constituency size from six to five seats, will make it harder for the smaller parties to continue this breakthrough, but it is important they can.

The smaller Assembly may limit the impact felt by the DUP and Sinn Féin for the decisions they have made collectively in government. The campaign will show us the extent to which voters will engage differently, think differently, act differently, away from the traditional, sectarian electoral ghettos.

I’m looking forward to knocking on a few doors up there. Given the madness of much of World politics these days, Northern Ireland may yet turn out to be a surprise beacon of hope.

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



From top: Vladimir Putin; Donald Trump; Dan Boyle

We now are the meat in a US/Russia sandwich. We need firstly to look to ourselves and recognise both these scoundrels – Putin and Trump – as being the same.

Dan Boyle writes:

When first I read his tweets I sniggered. Then I sneered. Then I reacted with revulsion. Only lately, and far too late into this story, have I tried to analyse them in order to understand. I don’t think I’m alone in these reactions.

An effective understanding is, I’m afraid, beyond me. I don’t hold with the view of some who support him, that he is possessed of genius. There is too much inconsistency, illogicality and incoherence, on display here to reach such a conclusion.

He is though quite skilled. It isn’t a skill born of intelligence. It is an intuitiveness that has served him well, which his messianic self confidence, fuelled by arrogance, believes will continue to serve him well. His sexual peccadilloes are an irrelevance to me. I care not whether water sports are his preference or his phobia.

I’m not possessed of sufficient fact to determine whether Mr. Trump is in the pocket of Vladimir Putin. Those whose views I respect indicate he may be. Without empirical evidence that’s a call that cannot yet be made.

What is a worry is the observable fact that Don and Vlad seem to be of one mind (Putin’s I imagine), when it comes to our common European home.

Both seem to feel that formalised co-operation, with the infrastructure that makes that possible, between the nations of Europe, is something that should be discouraged and preferably ended.

Whose endgame is this? Who benefits? Everything seems to point to the bare-chested one.
I don’t share the sneaking regard of some for the master oligarch. I see him as a thug, an autocrat, an assassin of political opponents, and an arch manipulator of truth.

Having his counterpart in Washington DC as his mouthpiece is an appalling vista. It is not a Brave New World I want to a part of. It may though be the world that have to get used to, at least for the next few years. So what is it we can do?

I’m fairly sure regular flying pickets at the US embassy by the bullhorn brigade will be particularly useless. Although at least it may keep them out of harm’s way.

We now are the meat in a US/Russia sandwich. We need firstly to look to ourselves and recognise both these scoundrels as being the same.

The EU must be reformed. In order to make ourselves stronger we need to make ourselves better. There are many inconsistencies of our own we need to correct.
We need to identify with and support civil society in the US and Russia. These are the partnerships that need to be forged if we are to begin to make a value based polity dominant, and persuasive, again.

It’s not going to easy. Putting the world to right never is.

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



From top: Anti-Trump protest; Dan Boyle

You know about the ‘alt-right’, right?

Now meet the ‘Alt-Delete’.

Dan Boyle writes:

We’re hip, we’re happening, we’re now. We are the fittest, the strongest, the smartest and the wordiest. We are the future. If you want to get with getting us these phrases may help.

All you want to know about the Alt-Delete – A Glossary

Alt Delighted: That feeling of euphoria when given a prestigious platform by the mainstream media to publish the most toxic of views.

Benitos: Being blonde is good but being bald can be better.

Common Cause: Working together with Alt Delete movements in other countries trying to bring an end to international cooperation.

FemiNazis: The delicious irony when we call people we don’t like (and who won’t talk to us) Nazis.

Freedom: We talk about this a lot but none of us believe it.

Golden Retrievers: Minions of Donald Trump.

Legally Blonde: A classic film.

Libtards: Comfortable undergarment. Helps prevent chaffing while goosestepping.

Mushy: The ability to grow facial hair like some of our greatest heroes.

Normies: Fans of the beloved sitcom character ‘Norm’ from the TV series ‘Cheers’.

Oxymorons: Outliers. Those whose history and existence undermines the racial superiority of the Alt Delete. See Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Rosa Luxemburg, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela.

Paleoconservatives: Cautious archeologists.

Pepé Le Peu: Our mascot. Capable of causing a stink anywhere.

Raceys: A badge of pride for those of us who speak as we find. We know who the real deplorables are.

Siegfried Follies Line
: We want to dance, dance, dance into the future.

Signalling/Dog Whistling: You know what we really mean. Don’t you?

: Apparently no two are alike. We don’t like diversity.

Sticky Keyboard: A successful trolling session on social media.

TBTM: That song (Tomorrow Belongs To Me) from the musical ‘Cabaret’. A good tune as well.

Xenos: See Raceys.

We’re creating new phrases, and new narratives, everyday. We’re finding the English language extremely limiting in effectively getting across our vision.

Despite that we’ll be coming to a government near you. Soon.

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



From top: classroom in Finland; Dan Boyle

Are we ready to emulate Finland’s education system which promotes potential and the love of learning ahead of the ability to regurgitate facts?

Dan Boyle writes:

Last week a story emerged that didn’t seem to get a lot of traction. Its source, being a report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, probably has had a lot to do with that.

The report suggested that the Irish primary school curriculum should be radically altered along Finnish lines. The Finnish education system currently being seen as the système du jour.

Child centred, based on bringing out the learning from within rather having it imposed upon, there is much in the Finnish system worthy of consideration and emulation.

This, however, is only a report. It requires one of the most conservative departments of government, that of Education and Skills, to bring its proposals into being.

I would be sceptical it would do so, or at least not do so while cherry picking those aspects that would result in cost savings, whilst ignoring those proposals that could achieve better social and educational outcomes.

Add to this a lack of willingness to interfere with things as they are, lest the new world order of bluff and blunder over consideration, takes offence, which makes change even less likely.

But we owe it our children to be part of an education system that puts realising their potential ahead of regurgitation; which can instill a love of learning ahead of being made into an economic utility.

By way of example I’d like to impart this personal anecdote. I get to help out with the daughter’s daughter. It isn’t an imposition, her joy of life is infectious. I sometimes get to collect her from playschool. From there, and until the time I get to return her to the real world, I occasionally get to take her to a local playground.

Initially I had to overcome strong qualms I had on how, sadly, our society views men being on their own with young children, regardless of the family relationship. I got over that.

The daughter’s daughter disabused me of such notions. Being the livewire she is she demanded constant attention. The exercise I was getting flitting from side of the playground to the other was exhausting, but aerobically beneficial.

She seemed magnetically drawn to climbing; on the steepest interface to the highest point. I stood nearby to act in case my Icarus ever came to grief, which she never did.

On one piece of apparatus I was more cautious than I should have been. It was about 50cm off the ground. On its top were a number of pods similarly distant from each other, on alternate sides requiring a step or a slight leap to reach.

I feared if missed a nasty graze or a twisted ankle might be the prize. I went to hold her hand to offer guidance. She refused my hand with disdain (I’m quite use to female rejection). Putting her hands on her hips she proceeded to tell me “I want to learn it myself,“.

If I ever needed confirmation that we need to go Finnish in how we educate our kids as they educate us, madam provided it for me there in splendid, suspended animation.

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


From top: Donald Trump and Nigel Farage; Dan Boyle

The resounding message of 2016?

It’s time for liberals to get down and dirty.

Dan Boyle writes:

It’s been a crappy year. A crappy, crappy year. A year where the favoured, successful, political tools were those of fear, hate and ignorance. Those who have used these tools have become triumphant not by changing the rules of the game, but by working them through to their logical conclusion.

Lying, lack of disclosure and deceit have sadly long been part of our political discourse. All that those who have succeeded, now, have managed to do has been to ignore truth in any form whatsoever, to create a more sellable narrative.

Those of us who have lost, and we have lost badly, should waste no time crying into our lattes. We must adopt similar tactics to restore obvious truths into the greater public consciousness.
In doing so we need to be aware of who we are trying to repersuade.

A number of stupid political choices may have been made in 2016, but to characterise those who have made such decisions as stupid, or deplorable or ignorant, will make it impossible to change such minds again.

We need to acknowledge the liberal/progressive conceit not to have engaged with those who had opted out of the political system.

Those now politically dominant should be acknowledged for bringing the long neglected into the political fold. Involved consent is good. Informed consent is better.We should also remind ourselves that this new vanguard of the right is not a majority, but it has become a dangerous plurality.

How we persuade is also important. It won’t be through tedious debate or sanctimonious finger pointing. Getting down and dirty is where liberals/progressives need to be. Messages need to simplified, made into soundbites then repeated ad nauseum. That oxymoron, liberal disdain, should never again be given any oxygen.

What particularly needs to be challenged is the narrative that this elite that pretends it is not an elite, is best placed to meet the needs of the dispossessed and long neglected. Making them believe that in helping the ultra rich become richer we all will somehow benefit.

Like fuck we will.

This is not my usual turn of phrase. I would, and should, apologise. However I have become convinced, that those of us of a progressive bent, need to construct a metaphorical mirror to reflect back, to those currently controlling the political agenda, the ugliness they have helped to create.

The new dispensation feeds upon liberal niceness. It’s also likely that these heroes will fold if effectively challenged.

The coming era will be confrontational. It needs to be. The danger for progressive forces, is to ensure the clarity needed as to who the real opposition is. Progressives need to feed, not feed off, each other. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. There may further more depressing defeats ahead. But we’ve got to start somewhere.

Happy New Year by the way.

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

Cartoon: Steve Greenberg


From top: Apollo House on Monday: Dan Boyle

A glorious piece of political theatre has highlighted the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

Dan Boyle writes:

Seven years ago much of my time, probably too much, was spent grappling with, seeking to understand, then speaking with many others trying to collectively comprehend what NAMA was all about.

Knee jerkers had already determined that it was about throwing more money into an ever expanding black hole. An exercise of the State protecting the assets of its favoured developer class. A blatant attempt to keep property prices artificially high.

Political debate at the time wasn’t overflowing with alternatives. Sinn Féin offered nothing. Fine Gael suggested a bad bank. Labour proposed a nattily titled Asset Recovery Trust. All that was being outlined were synonyms, no real different policy approaches were being offered.Each wanted to achieve the effect of improving the balance sheets of our basket case banks, by removing the most toxic loans from their books.

Then and subsequent analysis usually misrepresented the figures involved. Property values were eventually to fall to 50% of their peak. This peak has invariably been the figure quoted by critics in assessing the success or otherwise of NAMA.

The loans which secured these properties were never 100% of their value. Some level of repayment would have been made. NAMA when taking over these loans secured a 60% discount on the then outstanding loan amounts. This was the figure that NAMA has been expected to recoup.

It seems on course to do this. At the time I argued that even if it were to come back with a small loss it would be seen as having done a good job. In these narrow terms NAMA can be judged to have been a success. Why then do I have a niggling feeling that NAMA has disappointed, that huge opportunities have been missed through its adopting a narrow books based approach to its portfolio?

Crisis creates opportunity. The crises of 2008/10 have been the deepest and most serious we have ever experienced as a State. The parallel opportunities created have not been seized upon. Our political system predictably has chosen not to. NAMA, in becoming possibly the largest property management company in the World, has had an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent our built environment. Its failure to scarcely recognise this possibility is the reason for my disappointment.

From my time on the Public Accounts Committee I had viewed people, like Nama chairman Frank Daly and CEO Brendan McDonagh, to be extremely competent as well as being committed public servants.

Any whiff of corruption on the sale of its Northern Ireland portfolio seems to me to have emanated from the northern side of the border. The real failure of NAMA, to me, has been a failure of imagination.

A large element for initially securing Green Party support for NAMA was that agency would seek to provide a social dividend from its activities. This was written directly into NAMA’s mission statement. However, there seems to have been an ideological blockage to having to fulfil this obligation in any way at all.

This is why I would be hugely supportive of events at Apollo House. Commandeering a NAMA property for use as a temporary shelter for the homeless, is a glorious piece of political theatre. It may not be a Bastille moment, but it does highlight so well the absence of humanity within NAMA and throughout its activities.

There remains opportunity that what is left of NAMA’s portfolio can be maximised for social benefit. I would be hopeful if not expectant. The hope comes from what is happening at Apollo House. The lack of expectancy is the cynical residue of my experience in Irish politics.

With the week that is in it, it would be nice if hope would win for once.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle