From top: Dan Boyle, with then Green Party leader Trevor Sergeant in 2004, is returning to front line politics; Dan today.
I have become a ratified election candidate again. I realise this may cue a torrent of sniggers and face palms among some, but I’m going to try anyhow.
This will be my sixteenth election. I’ve only been successful on three occasions, even though I have been competitive in most – fighting for a final seat, or more often than not gallingly seeing my transfers elect someone else.
Most elections I would have contested as profile raising or flag waving exercises, with little or no expectation of being elected.
Being a candidate for a small, under resourced, political party is bit like running a marathon with a haversack of bricks on your back. It’s hard, often making you wonder why you are doing it at all.
Over that time more than fifty thousand ballot papers have been marked giving me a first preference vote. Of course not enough of them together at appropriate times.
That support has been the incentive for me to try and try again.
So why now and why again? I like to think I still have something to offer. The experience I have gained, good and bad, puts me in a better position than most (I would argue) to try and make a system designed to frustrate, work.
I would be going back to where I started with Cork City Council. That was half a lifetime ago. I began as a naive, green in a more literal sense, twenty eight year old who believed he could change the World. All these years later I now realise that to change even the slightest part of it, would be something.
I’ve kept my toe dipped; in my local community association where we rent out the premises to give local people choices that may not otherwise have existed.
I’ve participated in shadow local government structures that have developed to give some say to voluntary groups; the PPN (Public Participation Network) and the LCDC (Local Community Development Committee), a well meaning but still to find its way sub-structure.
I’m part of a housing association and several arts groups. It has made feel that I’m involved in work that is useful.
I would be trying to get elected to a different council for a new city. A city with an additional 80,000 people, an additional population equal to that of the next largest Irish city, Limerick.
And there will be a conversation about trying to make local government (which in Ireland amounts to little more than local administration) more real.
Cork is to decide, along with Limerick, Galway and Waterford, whether their cities should have directly elected mayors with five year terms. I want to be part of that conversation.
I hope the voters of these cities will bring this about. The continuity and better accountability will make for better local government.
Leaving Dublin out of this experiment should be viewed as a deeply cynical decision. It’s as if the government and senior civil servants are pushing the idea to make it fail.
There are also big local Cork issues I believe could do with a Green perspective, from within the City Council. The cack handed way the Office of Public Works is seeking to treat the city’s quay walls is brutal in its intent and its likely effect.
Where we are all fortunate is to have a system of election campaigning, that obliges candidates for office to interact, on a large scale, with those whose support they seek.
Knocking on doors is one of the more enjoyable aspects of any election campaign. While there is often a lot of indifference, or an occasional hostile person, most people you meet are pleasant, polite, and often good humoured.
I’m looking forward to knocking on those doors again, to face whatever slings and arrows come my way. I’ll be offering a choice by advocating different (and hopefully better) arguments than others.
If I succeed I’ll work hard to meet the new challenges. If I don’t I’ll try to continue to contribute in whatever way I can.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboylÉ