Tag Archives: Dan Boyle

From top: Grenfell Tower in West London; Dan Boyle

A political argument has already been lost, when a protagonist states that an issue shouldn’t be ‘politicised’. To politicise an issue is to cause embarrassment, even to evoke shame.

There are times, however, when shame, guilt, and responsibility, not only need to be evoked, but also constantly need to be put before those whose actions (often lack of action) have created crisis and havoc.

Those who have died so needlessly at Grenfall Tower in West London, those who will endure such horrible injuries, and those who have lost family and other loved ones, have to be seen as more than victims. Collectively they are human sacrifice on the altar of political expediency.

The Conservative Party controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council sees public services as a distraction, from its real business of business itself. A more ugly exponent of the mantra of New Public Management, would be difficult to find.

Spend less. Tax less. Where possible commodify. When necessary avoid activity that promotes a common good. Insist, whenever possible, on the necessity of individual responsibility. Create new structures, and with such structures put in place new bodies, to which responsibility without power can be ascribed.

This council treats its residents like shareholders. Householders are supplied with a statement of account, which in the most recent year saw the council making a ‘profit’, rewarding each householder with £100 cash back.

The implication of this reward is that at all publicly provided needs were met. Of course they haven’t been. The ability of residents being bribed with their own money has been bought at the expense, of the use of cheap materials, and with many deep cuts to basics services.

These are cuts made with callous indifference, knowing that those most affected – the poor, the unemployed, ethnic minorities – provide little shareholder capital for a Tory council in the richest borough in Britain.

Irish local authorities have tended to ape policy changes in the UK. While Irish councils are structured differently, and carry significantly less powers, than their UK counterparts, worrying signs of these attitudes have begun to be seen.

If any kind of hope can be gained from such an awful event, it should be to act as a wake up call to stop travelling down this road, or to think it a route ever worth taking.We can only pray that those who have argued that a Michael O’Leary business model, best provides for Irish social services, will now shut the feck up.

The metrics for good performance in Irish local government should be in the meeting of needs as they exist. It should be in acquiring, and never apologising for acquiring, the resources necessary to meet such needs.

Those with least require most. Meeting such needs should be the prime purpose of local government. To demean such needs, while virtually criminalising those who require services, will only bring us events like the London conflagration.

Never again with never again.

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

From top; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaves Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday after receiving his seal of office from President Higgins; Dan Boyle

Yesterday, June 14th, 2017, Leo Varadkar became the fourteenth head of government of the Republic of Ireland/Irish Free State.

Being caught up in his own history, he was probably blissfully unaware, that the day was also the tenth anniversary of when the Green Party became part of an Irish government.

While not being directly comparable, there are parallels that apply to anyone whose accesses power at a higher level. Chief among these would be two factors, those of opportunity and chance, factors which impact on the ability to achieve.

The opportunity of achieving office only has value, if the chance that accompanies it is favourable. Chance is that combination of circumstance and durability. Neither you get to choose. Neither can ever really be controlled.

You are either an agent of continuity or an agent of change. Pretending to be a bit of both only hastens an end to opportunity.

How capricious, how ephemeral, politics can be, can be seen from noting who else held office where, this time ten years ago.

In Stormont, the Chuckle Brothers were still only rehearsing their new routine, after their respective parties, Sinn Féin and the DUP, became kings of their castles.

In Westminister, Tony Blair was about to hand over to Gordon Brown who had brooded over that office for several years.

In Paris Nicholas Sarkozy had been President of France only for a matter of weeks. In Washington, George W Bush still had eighteen months of his lame duck term to serve.

The only constants are Putin in Russia and Angela Merkel in Germany (then only eighteen months into her first chancellorship).

If Leo achieves the six years in office that Enda Kenny has, he will have done very well. His first priority will be to use the time he has to buy more time. Failure to do so will consign him to the club of short term Taoisigh, with members like Albert Reynolds, John Bruton and Brian Cowen.

On a personal level I wish him well. Given our policy differences, my expectations wouldn’t be high, but that should never be a reason for wishing him, or anyone, ill. He is competent enough, confident enough, and as far as can be ascertained possessed of a sufficient integrity, to make a fair fist of the job.

I hope he is lucky, without being too lucky. His predecessor carried huge reserves of luck with him, even if he achieved little with the use of his good fortune.

He will soon be disabused of whatever expectation he has held about his office. The power bubble, he will become absorbed into, is a sealed vacuum which becomes detached from the reality and routine of everyday life.

Politicians who reach a high point in their career, run the risk of becoming further and further detached. Surrounding themselves with political friends and advisers, who have become similarly afflicted, only helps to increase their isolation.

To avoid becoming an actualised Pac Man, avoiding regular asteroid showers, our new Taoiseach should give a lot of thought towards doing most things differently. That should buy him a bit more time.

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

Rollingnews

From top: US president Donald Trump; Dan Boyle

Last Friday, I joined the liberal loser chorus queuing up to pour disdain upon Donald Trump. His well signposted announcement that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord on Climate Change, was the hammer on the knee most of us had been looking for.

My contribution was to tweet the headline of the Berliner Courier newspaper. It read Erde an Trump: Fuck you! Beautiful language German.

He hadn’t surprised. His tiny world view exposed, whether to anger or ridicule, hasn’t been tempered in any way. He is what it says on the tin, albeit a vacuously empty tin.

Like a child with his hands over his ears, making compensatory noise to drown out being told what he doesn’t want to hear, Trump will say and do what he wants.

He cares little about consequence. Despite his obsession to build a particular wall, his political goals are to tear down walls. Those walls of hope, fairness, and justice, those unacceptable impediments in Trump World. His instinct is to demolish them to have them replaced with his garish casino type alternatives.

His disdain, his disgust, for the environment was immediately re-inforced with his decision to appoint, Scott Pruitt, as Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, a serial litigant against the previous administration’s attempts to enforce basic environmental standards, is the ultimate in fox in the henhouse appointments.

Pruitt sat smugly on his hands as the budget for environmental protection in the United States was reduced many, many times beyond decimation. The web sites of environmental agencies were denuded of content.

The demands have gone further. Not only was the publication of data on climate change being actively discouraged, the seeking of data itself was being defined as verboten. This being the ultimate Orwellian affectation.

This type of behaviour, this abhorrent barbaric behaviour, has been designed to bring froth to the mouths (and not just from our lattes) of we self styled guardians of the Earth.

At least that would be one impression. Some venting is necessary. Environmental campaigners won’t lack for anything to complain about while Trump is in office.

But maybe, just maybe, environmentalists should learn to embrace Trump in all his awfulness.

Campaigns highlighting the need for greater public awareness, could be organised on The Donald’s whims. Instead of hiring researchers and public relations people, environmental NGOs would merely need to mirror whatever The Donald tweets, knowing that the opposite will always be the apposite.

Trump is the Anti Christ that every movement needs to define what it is and what it needs to do. We should wink knowingly as we roll our eyes, that someone with such an appalling lack of awareness is there to be, the polar opposite of where we on this planet need to be.

He is the inverted talisman of our time. He is our villain. He is the master of the Ignorverse. He is Our Donald.

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

From top: UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn; Dan Boyle

It didn’t seem possible, at first, but the British General Election has gotten very interesting indeed. Let me give praise where it’s due, Jeremy Corbyn has had a very good campaign. A campaign in which every most likely option still sees him winning.

It has been the little things that have seen him succeed. Someone has got to him, and has made him understand, the importance of the superficial in politics.

That’s something, as a conviction politician, he seems to have worked against his entire political life. The dark jacket has replaced the tweed. The beard is neatly trimmed. But it is his tone of voice that has been winning over many.

Again, and I know it’s also superficial, how you say something in politics is often more important than what you say. His calm authoritative tones are helping to overcome many of the negatives that have been foisted on to him.

He is being helped by the implosion of Theresa May, in being seen as a credible leader. She has come to be seen as lacking in strength, stability or reason, May is being exposed as being the opposite of what she and her party have portrayed herself as being. She, and they (the Tories) are exposing the entitled elitism that is at the heart of their rotten core.

Corbyn, and Labour, may also be gaining from incumbent negativity, which should be factored in most election situations these days. In every election there is reaction against whoever is in office or holds power. In recent times holding office has become more difficult to maintain. Anyone who comes up with a narrative that opposes the prevailing narrative, will gain electorally.

The British Labour Party manifesto pushes all the right buttons in this regard. It is refreshing that British voters have such a distinct choice between two clearly different political propositions.

I still have reservations about Corbyn. I’m with him that the issue of achieving social and economic equality, is the dominant issue of our times. I am with him that the security myth needs to be exposed, that the waste of billions, in whatever currency, towards the dubious goal of finding better ways of killing each other, is nothing other than obscene.

Where we diverge is his dogmatism, and that of his supporters, that wealth creating mechanisms are by their nature wrong. Too many progressives turn their backs on markets, seeing the realisation of profit as being crimes against the people.

We do, of course, need a debate as to what constitutes wealth. We should not, however, see the creation of wealth itself as a problem. It’s how wealth is distributed that must remain our central concern.

I would still prefer Corbyn over any Tory alternative. That alternative of only being interested in wealth creation for the sake of a privileged elite.

I continue to find it hard to forgive Corbyn for his languid performance during the Brexit referendum. Still I would prefer him over May, to be negotiating with the European Union.

When the results arrive I will still be looking first at the results of the Greens, who I think are also having a good campaign. I expect the SNP to still remain dominant in Scotland. Regarding the rest of the election I will be cheering with others. Go Jeremy Go!

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

Top pic: Press Association

From top: Former Anglo Irish Bank Chairman Seán Fitzpatrick leaves court yesterday; Dan Boyle

The first ever bulky report placed in my cubby hole, in the mail room of Leinster House, was from the Director of Corporate Enforcement, then Paul Appleby. It was an investigation into the activities of Ansbacher Bank (Ireland) Ltd.

Many of the details had already been leaked. The central allegations had been aired over several years. Even so the collective airing in one document of such a huge financial conspiracy, continued to shock and did nothing to alleviate public concern.

Over 200 people, supposedly prominent in Irish life were named. To be historically accurate and fair, few of these were directly involved in politics, none currently involved then. The nexus of labyrinthine financial mechanisms, created by Des Traynor, centred around the Guinness and Mahon bank and the boardroom of Cement Roadstone Holdings.

There was meant to be some satisfaction in the €120 million in unpaid taxes and fines that were collected. What never happened was any prosecution of any of the people involved.

Over the subsequent years, The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, through the tenure of several directors, has tended to be underresourced. This led the office to concentrate on smaller fry, having neither the resources nor the willingness to take on the bigger offenders. In Ireland the bigger the fraud, the less the likelihood of it being identified and, as such, of it ever being prosecuted.

Like most I look askance at the verdict passed on the Seán Fitzpatrick trial. I won’t quibble with the legal technicalities, I freely admit I lack the capacity to do so. Nor will I indulge in the hang ’em, flog ’em, throw ’em in the brig (I realise the order is nonsensical. That’s the point!) cravings that we all indulge in.

Seán FItzpatrick is ethically guilty of huge breaches of trust. He moved enormous sums of money between financial institutions, aimed at protecting his acquired wealth, and to create an impression that the institutions concerned were more financially sound than was actually the case.

In doing so, he undermined the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands. He was part of a group of a small number of people, whose actions helped put the economy of this country onto life support.

I am more saddened than angered, that these obvious wrongs cannot be legally recognised. That as a State we seem to lack the capacity, either through indifference or diffidence, to properly investigate or securely prosecute.

Our ongoing frustrations not only exonerates those who have failed us, it means we fail future generations for whom what has happened, can so easily happen again.

If it takes a new legal code, a new Constitution, or new methods to select a judiciary better grounded in moral imperatives, then we should be prepared to ask such questions. To continue to accept this form of Justice as She is Spoke, demeans us as a Republic.

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

Rollingnews

From top: Leinster House; Dan Boyle

Traditional decision making immediately casts aside those whose views haven’t convinced. Engagement should be more than a one off process.

Dan Boyle writes:

In the sadder half hours of my life, I listen British political programmes on BBC4. Earlier this week I heard a Labour Party MP (the who is irrelevant) state that “the people are always right’.

Are they?

‘The People’ is a collective expression of us as individuals. None of us as individuals is ever always right. Why should our collective expression acquire a quality of absolute wisdom?

Especially if when making such decisions, we are always divided, often deeply so.

That Labour MP was merely repeating what many believe to be a fundamental truth, a truism grounded in ‘common’ sense. That phrase, for all its homespun attachment, has in its overuse become an oxymoron, rarely ever being common or sensible.

Is this to question the central tenet of democracy? I don’t believe it is, but it is to question the fallacy that a decision, once made, is an absolute for eternity.

Every decision made should be subject to review, analysis and ongoing criticism. Neither does this mean that, on being made, decisions should be treated dismissively. All such decisions are valid at the time and in the context they have been made.

Those who have lost such arguments are not necessarily wrong, what they have failed to do is be able to convince at that particular time.

What we should be doing is giving consideration to weighted majorities, with built in review mechanisms. This, I believe, will help better decisions be made, while also getting such decisions implemented more quickly.

Traditional decision making immediately casts aside those whose views haven’t convinced. Engagement should be more than a one off process.

In the early days of The Greens in Ireland, we experimented with consensus decision making. It was deeply frustrating, a charter for those whose self-identity is wrapped up in their ability to create havoc. Those type of activists now have more comfortable political homes in which to indulge their persistent negativity.

But naysayers are not the only result of consensus decision making. For all it frustrations, it also gives space to some thoughtful, but minority views, that question the speed and direction of decisions. In ‘straight’ decision making, the views of such individuals tend to get steamrollered over.

The motivations behind any decision should always be questioned. The who benefits and why always kept to the fore.

Any victory should be seen as temporary and transient. Being on the right side of an argument, does not and should not, equate with being on the right side of history.

Democracy is a process not an end in itself. Too often we consider the who whilst forgetting the what, and more particularly the why. We should decide to do something about that. But how?

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


From top: Stephen Fry on the ‘Meaning of Life ‘with Gay Byrne; Dan Boyle

‘Christ you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They’re going to crucify me. ‘

The Ballad of John and Yoko – The Beatles

Among my guilty pleasures is a predilection for table quizzes. At a recent quiz the question was asked as to what was the last song The Beatles recorded as a single only release. Mentally leafing through my record collection (vinyl records), I worked out it must have been ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’.

Technically only John and Paul were involved in its recording. George and Ringo must have been recording the B-side (the other side of the record!), George’s ‘Old Brown Shoe‘, a better tune as it happens.

A number of years earlier Lennon had got himself and the group into hot water, with his claim that The Beatles had become ‘Bigger than Jesus’. This led to bonfires of Beatles records in the US, and with that an increase in record sales in order to add more fuel to the fires. Lennon never said that The Beatles were better than Jesus, despite Jesus never having cut it as a recording artist.

The reaction to the ‘Ballad of John and Yoko’ was far more muted. Some US radio stations refused to play the song, due the use of Christ as an exasperation and the allusions to crucifixion, which were felt to be gratuitous. Formal bans seemed to have escaped the song. In Ireland it reached number one.

Ten years later, the Monty Python film ‘The Life of Brian‘ (largely financed by George Harrison) was banned from being shown in Ireland. The Irish film censor was Frank Hall. He was best known for his RTE television series ‘Hall’s Pictorial Weekly’, Ireland’s version of surreal comedy.

Earlier in his career, as an RTÉ reporter, he had interviewed The Beatles while they were in Dublin, striking quite the condescending tone. After his death it was revealed he had had a long running affair with Ireland’s favourite agony aunt, Frankie Byrne.

I include these details to support an argument that any prohibition on what people should say, hear or see, in relation to matters religious, is at best right wing virtue signalling, but at all times is an attack on basic freedoms.

In government the then Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, re-introduced a Defamation Bill that had originally had been introduced in 2006. His predecessor, Brian Lenihan, had withdrawn the bill to allow for further consideration. At that stage the bill was solely concerned with libel.

When re-introduced Ahern (at the behest of the Attorney General), brought in a new section on Blasphemy. The argument of the Attorney General was that the law surrounding blasphemy had been left in limbo since a 1965 court case, and needed to be legislated for.

The ‘offence’ would be covered by a number of caveats, making any prosecutions improbable under this provision. I despised this ‘Irish solution to an Irish problem’ approach. I spoke against the provision in my contribution to the Seanad debate, citing the ‘Jehovah‘ scene from ‘The Life of Brian’.

And yet I voted for the bill, feeling obliged to do so. The nature of being in government throws up many such compromises.

Did I like it? No. I squared my conscience by knowing that the law passed was unworkable, and that no prosecutions would ever follow. I was also given an assurance that a referendum on the constitutional provision on Blasphemy would soon follow.

I find the liberal angst heaped on Defamation Act to be largely irrelevant. The issue remains the constitutional provision. Get rid of that and we all can talk more freely.

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

Top pic: RTÉ

vincent'sdan

From top: St Vincent’s Hospital; Dan Boyle

Redress goes both ways.

Dan Boyle writes:

The construct of religious control and management of social services in Ireland was a British one. After Catholic Emancipation, church authorities were happy and willing to be the administrative arm of the British government, in seeking to provide key social services.

The model fit well with the dominant political philosophy of the time, that charitable and voluntary provision helped to minimise State involvement.

With the arrival of the new aristocracy of the Irish Free State, seeking to develop a new State on scant resources, there was instant acceptance to continue this arrangement.

For the church authorities, the tools of care and welfare soon began to be recognised by them as useful means of social control. Against that education and health care was being provided that otherwise would not have been.

The State, since 1922, doesn’t seem to have been in any hurry to secularise our social services. A demonised Church sometimes has been a useful means of deflecting blame from the political system.

An example of this would the Mother and Child controversy of 1951, where the role of Archbishop John McQuaid (an undoubted charlatan) was exaggerated to obscure the real villains of the piece, the Irish Medical Association with its campaign designed to protect the private practices of its members.

There is a bill that has to be paid for the use, management, and provision of facilities/services, from the State to these religious groupings for the period since 1922. Set against this should be the ownership of any building or facility built solely with use of taxpayers’ money.

This won’t be straightforward, as many of these facilities have been developed with resources other than State funding. Any settlement will also have to take this into account.

Redress is something that we’ve gone a long way towards addressing, even if a considerable journey still remains. The ultimate responsibility for abuse remains with the perpetrators. Religious organisations who shielded the abusers need penalising, with the full implementation of such penalties.

However in terms of the costs of redress, the State continues to bear a huge responsibility, as it has been the State that created the risk for abuse victims, through farming out their care to third parties.

To secularise our social services requires a lead in time. Management of schools and hospitals will have to be changed. For the sake of continuity the State should be appoint some religious representatives to these management structures, to make use of their acquired experience.

The sum to achieve full secularisation is not just weighing unpaid redress against the cost of new facilities. Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.

Is that a price we are willing to pay?

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

france-electiondan

From top: French Presidential hopeful Emmanuelle Macron, with his wife Brigitte; Dan Boyle

Who is Emmanuelle Macron and what does he want?

Dan Boyle writes:

Growing up, the French name Emmanuelle, in its feminine form, was synonymous with what, euphemistically, were described as ‘art house’ movies. Along with enthusiastic co-conspirators, we would seek optimal back row positions at our local cineplex. There were occasional glances at the flickering screen, but most of the time we engaged in whispered, intensive, discussions on all matters French.

These days it is a male Emmanuel who seeking to seduce the French electorate. Most media attention has been directed towards his unusual significant relationship. Given the sad, superficial nature of most global political analysis, these days, this should be the least important thing about him.

It’s as if politics anywhere has ceased to be a battle of ideas, being reduced instead to being a battle of narratives.

Little seems to be known about Monsieur Macron, other than the fact that he isn’t Lucifer herself. If that all that he represents is being the ‘business as usual’ candidate, then the ‘it can’t be any worse’ brigade will further strengthen in France and elsewhere.

And that is to presume he will be elected, which too many of us are presuming. I worry that too many of his opponents have moved immediately to endorse him. As have many EU leaders, including our own Prince of Depth, An Taoiseach.

Regarding this second category, there should be considerable disquiet in France. It represents an intolerable intrusion into a political process, which remains only half complete.

The reluctance of the Left candidate, Melenchon, to join the Macron chorus, could be more beneficial to his eventual election, than any number of premature, and often unwelcome, endorsements. It introduces a note of uncertainty into the second round of voting, that can help maintain turnout.

Given the similarities of their respective platforms, other than on immigration, and their appeal to similar parts of the electorate, it shouldn’t be a surprise if many Melenchon supporters decide to vote for Le Pen in the second round.

The onus is on Macron to define what type of reform he is interested in bringing about. If it is only about a ‘deeper’ Europe, then he need not bother.

If the European Union wants to secure its future, it needs to freeze any thought of deepening the European project, devoting its energies instead towards addressing inequality.

After Brexit and Trump, sanity seems to be making a coming back, with the far right failing to achieve in Austria and The Netherlands. However the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

The only way of bringing about change is to do things differently. Such change has to be the right change, for the right reasons. Never change towards and for the far right.

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

 Top pic: AP

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From top: media question NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary on his way to Bus Eireann talks; Dan Boyle

It is not sufficiently understood  the difference between someone who holds cards close to their chest and someone who slips cards into their pocket.

Dan Boyle writes:

Ten years ago I was being interviewed during the prime slot on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland – a twelve minute segment. Later that day Green Party members would be deciding on whether the party should be participating in government.

I was happy to talk about the process involved in making a decision, but I didn’t think I was in a position to reveal any content. I suspect it didn’t make for riveting radio. I felt my duty of care was to first inform those who would be making the decision.

On finishing the interview a party member rang me immediately, to tell me how pleased he was that I had said nothing. I had said something, it was that I had chosen not to reveal anything, but I knew what he meant.

The distinction I would make is the difference between concealing something and choosing the how and when of when something should be revealed. The Peace Process on this island could only exist because of such discipline (that of others not mine!).

Last year I was in a more uncomfortable position. A possible voting pact in Wales was being discussed, although only on the basis that if it were made public it would be denied. I had to make a report to the National Council of the Wales Green Party, my employers. Without breaching confidences I went on to talk about the talks without saying who was being talked to, or what was being talked about.

I didn’t inspire faith in the project, even though it was necessary to progress talks to the next level. This got to a meeting of party leaders before one of the parties got cold feet. I would still justify this approach. While I continue to believe that truth is absolute, openness isn’t necessarily.

There is no process that can be advanced through starting, then continuing, with the assertion of absolute positions. Seclusion, silence and shadow are often needed to identify nuance.

Why do I make this distinction? It’s certainly a personal bugbear. I don’t feel it is sufficiently understood the difference between someone who holds cards close to their chest, and someone who slips cards into their pocket.

Not saying something, especially when not feeling able to say anything, is often thought as much a crime against the truth as seeking to distort truth itself. The subtle distinction between avoidance and evasion is rarely understood.

Friends of mine (I do have some) tell me that in most areas in my life I am far too open; that I reveal far too much; that often I am emotionally incontinent. All this is probably true. Despite these obvious flaws in my character, I have always realised the importance of when to stay schtum.

When I do it is not to avoid being self incriminated. I do so to allow others the space to think differently and decide accordingly. We all could benefit from such space.

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

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