Tag Archives: Dan on Thursday

From top: A mural in Bristol, England; Dan Boyle

For those who believe in the ‘stable genius’ theory of Donald Trump, that his very erraticism is proof of his genius; that for them he is practising a sublime form of right wing anarchism, purposefully seeking to destroy everything that doesn’t accord with his worldview, what I write here probably isn’t for you.

It would be morally suspect to invest so much credit in Trump. The more likely reality is that Trump is every inch the spoiled child he portrays himself to be. Someone who instinctively strikes out at whatever he doesn’t like.

The problem is that this accidental anarchist, however unintentionally, may be defining a particular, peculiar, and ultimately poisonous political creed.

Right wing, far right wing, anarchism is scarcely related at all to its left wing mirror image. Both forms of (wishful) thinking seek to deconstruct society.

Left wing anarchists, sometimes naively sometimes more sinisterly, want to deconstruct in order to build anew. What would follow would they believe be a kinder, more gentle society. In his books George Orwell pretty much demolished these conceits, convincingly showing how narrow the gap is that exists between Utopia and Dystopia.

Right wing anarchists, those inspired by Trump and the merrymakers behind Brexit, seek to deconstruct in order to reconstruct. This reconstruction seeks a return to supposed halcyon days. Times when everything had a place and everyone knew theirs.

A mythical place where the rich could become further rich without having to contribute to any sense of a fair society. A World of benign empire where those less worthy became more worthy merely by basking in the presence of their betters.

Right wing anarchists want to remove every triumph of social democracy. They despise labour rights – the forty hour weeks, paid holidays, maternity rights, social protections. All things they believe compromise the right to make profits.

They abhor consumer rights. The right to know everything that should be known about a good or service before purchase. What has been wrong with caveat emptor where the consumer took total responsibility for a purchase, they ask?

What RWAs (Riggers With Attitude) especially detest are the gains made by the environmental movement over the last number of decades. The idea that environmental costs have to be measured; that there is no right to pollute the air, water, soil or atmosphere, is anathema to these people.

This is the battleground – The entitled against the envisioned.

The Vanguard of the Right are no revolutionaries. They certainly are no harbingers of a better future. They are the pedants of a discredited past.

Their idyll is no Iliad. For them Trojan Horses have been used to create false expectations of a better, fairer society. Expectations have been raised, they believe, in ways that can never be met.

Far better to return to the paternalistic glow of a benign capitalism that never really existed either.

Liberal tolerance has allowed the dark right to fester. It may be that the only way of meeting intolerance is by being intolerant. Liberal distaste of ‘lowering’ themselves to levels of the New Right has given extreme right views a credibility they do not deserve.

Perhaps a head to head, point by point challenge of the hate being promulgated by the New Right being exposed, is the only way of returning them and their hateful views to the obscurity they deserve.

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

Pic: AFP/Getty

From top: Minister for Transport and Sport Shane Ross, who has called for a ‘granny grant’: Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Older People, Mary Butler and Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Employment Affairs and Social Affairs, Willie O’Dea have called for an incrrease in the state pension; Dan Boyle

The battle lines are being drawn for Budget 2019. The grey vote is where the Fine Gael led government is being directed.

Fianna Fáil is insisting on another €5 increase in the State pension. The Independent Alliance (The Shane Ross party) has come up with a wheeze that grandparents should be given a grant for looking after their grandchildren.

Both are cynical attempts to buy support from the part of the electorate most likely to vote.

Many pensioners in Ireland, particularly those reliant on the State pension struggle with income adequacy. Women prohibited from the workforce because of the marriage bar in place until 1973, are especially affected.

If political parties were more interested in ending inequalities in our pension system, their concern for the grey vote would be taken more seriously.

Since the economic collapse in 2008, those Over 65 years of age have been the one sector of Irish society whose standards of living have been maintained and in many cases improved.

Pensions were the one area of social protection expenditure that were not reduced. In the period of deflation that followed that resulted in a real value increase. In the subsequent era of low inflation increases have been above the rate of inflation.

Of course this is all relative.

The State contributory pension in Ireland in nominal terms is high when compared to pensions paid in other EU countries. However, we know the cost of living in Ireland is also relatively higher. Comparisons in terms of disposable incomes put Ireland into the middle category of EU countries.

Nevertheless, again strictly in nominal terms, the State contributory pension in Ireland is the equivalent of the average income in Portugal, a country where such a sum has greater purchasing power.

I’m not arguing for any reduction in these rates. We should take great pride in how we aspire to give social protection to the older members of our society. When added to benefits in kind of great innovation, such as the free travel scheme, we do provide that protection better than most countries in Europe.

Where additional resources should go is to making housing for older people more secure, more energy efficient. We should be increasing resources for care in the community, hopefully then making savings in the cost of hospital care.

We should strengthen the State pension. Current policy is a peculiar combination of obsessing on rates, while raising further reliance onto private, occupational pensions. The tax foregone with this policy is equivalent to direct payment of the State pension itself.

We also have tax credit given to people for being older. Lessening or phasing out these measures would create additional resources to help to meet the future needs of our older population in a more holistic way.

As a country Ireland has some demographic advantages. We have population that is younger in age, with a steady replacement birth rate.

A more open immigration would also be an advantage in meeting future pension needs. We should be making these advantages count, rather than engage with cynical policy wheezes.

You might remember a voice from a lost Ireland, Frankie Byrne, whose agony aunt radio programme ‘Dear Frankie’, weekly contained this tag line:

“The problems you are hearing today may not be yours, but they may be some day.”

Sage advice then, even wiser now.

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

Rollingnews

From top: Defence Forces helicopter fighting a fire in the Slieve Bloom Mountains near the Laois-Offaly border during the heatwave; Dan Boyle

I have two tenets of belief that underline my personal political philosophy. The first is that the way that resources (economic, social and environmental) are allocated determines the fairness of a society. The second is how decisions are made, in what way and by whom, is the other vital component of a fair society.

Any political issue, I believe, can be measured against both these tenets.

I’m became a Green because I believed, and still believe, the principles of the party most accorded with those of my own.

Like any member of any political party, I am never 100% in agreement with how the party operates. Over the course of what soon will have been a 30 year journey, I have contested within the party how issues have been prioritised and progressed.

I would have classed myself as a Social (ish) Green dedicating myself to identifying, developing then advocating policy areas not readily identified with the Greens, even if still very much part of a holistic Green vision.

As an elected Green I tried to address not only these issues, but also those issues with a more obvious green bent. Issues like transport, energy, waste management, water use and environmental protection.

While I contributed on all these subjects, I would have deferred to other colleagues to expound more deeply on the Green agenda, while I concentrated on a more conventional political agenda.

I’m still of the belief that that needed to be done. This dual agenda hasn’t benefited The Greens. The social and economic political agendas are of obvious importance, and most particular importance to voters themselves.

Where Greens have fallen down politically, has been in the failure to gain a critical mass among the electorate, that environmental issues should be given precedence.

Without a serious attempt to tackle our environmental difficulties, we will have no means, or wherewithal, to address what it economically or socially unfair.

This is especially true of climate change. Greens have meekly accepted that false narratives should be expressed by those who fear change and who hate science.

What can be argued is the scale, the depth, and the timespan of the problem. What can’t be argued it that the problem exists and is worsening, through political indifference and ineptitude.

In the past nine months Ireland has experienced three extreme weather events of different variety. As I write a heat map of the World shows hundreds of conflagration points.

This is not theoretical. This is not potential occurrence. This is happening and it is happening now.

Reports such as the recent recommendations of the Climate Change Advisory Council, must be acted upon immediately. They must not be placed once again into that vast library of indifference.

We can now longer show tolerance towards the wilfully ignorant. They are no longer part of the problem, they are now the problem itself.

Climate change is the political issue of our time. Life itself depends on how we respond.

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

Rollingnews

From top: Remainers in Westminister, London last weekend calling for a second referendum on Brexit; Dan Boyle

History, I suspect, will not look kindly upon this period of time of the political entity that styles itself the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UKGBNI). 

This multi national state, that is less multi ethnic than it imagines itself to be, has been tearing itself politically apart, over its whitewashed past and a delusional sense towards where it wants its future to be.

At least those who purport to be in control there are. Despite a system of election that gives an advantage to winning a plurality instead of a majority of votes, the past decade has seen its governments lurch from coalition, to thin majority, to minority governments. None matching the permanently strong system of government promised by a first past the post system.  

Of course, this has been a State that boasts of not having a written Constitution. Among the many reasons, those least talked about, of reasons why Brexit has come about as a political philosophy, is not so much the British being told what to do by ‘unelected bureaucrats’, but in having such rules written down, constitutionally defined and then decided upon by Johnny Foreigner.

Britain has never lacked its own unelected bureaucrats. Nor has it been short of having a judiciary creatively interpreting a nebulous common law system that has as it base document, a 13th century arrow to the head blackmail note given by its then aristocracy to weaken the powers of its King.

The country’s current travails emanate from a somewhat perverse attempt, by then Prime Minister David Cameron, to use a participatory democracy mechanism – a referendum; to try to put down an essentially Conservative Party argument.

It failed not only because it produced a wrong result, but largely because it never was a binary yes/no question. In the three years since this dubious exercise, the intricacies involved have been made ever more obvious and are now are even more intractable.

Away from the conspiracies, the power plays, and the gathering together of malcontents, Brexit will surely come to be seen as the biggest ever example of collective stupidly.

It entrenches the tragedy that the hubris that brought about Brexit will also block its reconsideration.

The cast of villains may seem obvious. However the person I believe holds one of the greater shares of responsibility for the mess that is Brexit; is not even a Tory. It is the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. 

A life long europhobe, his lethargic campaigning during the referendum help create the narrow majority for its failure. His will of the people stance since cast aside 16 million voters, who had and still recognise Brexit for the disaster it has been.

This week he has sought to convince that Brexit can bring with it an economic upside. Jeremy – THERE IS NO ECONOMIC BENEFIT FROM BREXIT. Not for the UK, not for the EU, and certainly not for Ireland.

A head of government who can’t lead. A leader of the opposition who won’t oppose. Britain might deserve what it is getting. We don’t.

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

Pic: Getty

From top: Donald Trump protests in London during the US president’s UK visit last week; Dan Boyle

Identify issue.

Create a narrative based on fear.

The more irrational the fear the better.

The more distant your target group is from the effects and/or the realities of the issue, the more appreciative your audience can be.

Be vague in your language.

Devise trigger words and phrases, meaningless in themselves, designed to confirm your narrative.

Virtue Signalling – that’s a good one.

Place emphasis on words to give them evil intent – Left, Liberal, Do Gooder.

Accept no responsibility.

Others are always to blame.

Truth is expendable. Rarely rely on it.

Re-invent history to suit your narrative.

Demonise the future.

Always deflect never reflect.

Deny deny deny.

Refute refute refute.

If your truth isn’t working make up another truth.

Counter the telling with whataboutery.

When in danger of exposure resort to name calling your opponents.

Make up insults suggesting diminished intellectual capacity against those who oppose you.

Libtard – that’s another good one.

Compare what shouldn’t be compared.

Equate what can’t be equated.

Quote liberally but always out of context.

Use only information that confirms your bias.

Never seek to verify.

Discover bogeymen

If you discover an individual so much the better.

Invest in their persona every foible you can imagine.

Remember opinions are facts, your opinions in particular.

Anecdotes represent scientific observation.

You are not alone although there need not be many of you.

If you lack charisma find your own God. Invest in them human qualities. Have them speak plainly however ignorantly.

Your God will always be right and well intentioned.

Your Bogeymen will always be mendacious, and be forever evil in their actions.

When in doubt claim you misspoke.

No one will believe you, but they will admire your shamelessness.

Or Lost in Translation. That’s another good one.

Choose your friends and companions wisely.

They need not be friendly or approachable. They should be encouraged not to be.

Neither should they be wise or knowledgeable.

Only convinced they are right.

Science or scientists are not your friends, and can never be.

Say we have had enough of experts and everyone will laugh.

You can never go wrong with a good conspiracy. They never are true. They never need to be.

Shut down all criticism.

Question the motivation of those who criticise.

Seize on any error, no matter how minuscule or how petty.

Exaggerate accomplishment.

Ignore failure.

Misrepresent actions

Lie. A lot.

Denigrate any, and every, accountability mechanism.

Make what you don’t like fake or deep.

Repeat ad nauseam.

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

Pic: getty

 

From top: UK Prime Minister Theresa May as England football manager Gareth Southgate in yesterday’s The Sun after comparing her Brexit task to his team’s World Cup ambitions;  Dan Boyle

Whatever about the emotional wrench of supporting an England team during the World Cup, it was an easier leap to accept that with Gareth Southgate as its manager.

The country has as manager of its national team, someone who is decent and likeable, and with whose personality the idea of liking the Sassenach becomes more bearable.

England sees itself in a period redistributive karma at the moment. Its football team is, last night’s semi-final defeat notwithstanding, enjoying its greatest period of success since 1966 (apparently they won something then).

Meanwhile the flames of Brexit continue to engulf the country.

For decades the English football team has been the torch bearer for the irrational exuberance Brexit has come to represent.

England thought itself entitled to win tournaments. Failure was usually put down to cheating foreigners, and/or a World set against the plucky Brits.

The more obvious failings were ignored. The exaggerated ability of players. The inability to blend conflicting egos into a team. The ongoing fantasy that to be the best in the World, required style more than substance.

These fantasies became embedded through a rotten British media that equated sporting endeavour with jingoism. A media whose elevation of the obscure and the bizarre were portrayed as equal elements to the football.

An example of this was the promotion of the WAG culture. The better the ‘bird’ you scored, the better you were perceived as a footballer.

Tired of the fifty years of hurt, the British media turned to Brexit to restore its nostalgia fix. Instead of Britain ruling the waves, we now had cheerleaders for Britain waiving the rules.

A new cast of cosseted foot in the mouth ballers were unveiled – Johnson, Gove, Rees Mogg. While their sexual exploits weren’t being recorded, they were achieving orgasmic delight, with miles of newsprint and mounds of airwaves being expended on their behalf.

Logic, consistency, informed consent were unimportant to this debate. What mattered was that the right boxes were being ticked – sovereignty, getting our country back, control of immigration.

Nor did it matter how this was to be achieved, or what would be the impact from the resultant changes. Two years after the result of the Brexit referendum, and less than nine months away from when leaving the EU is meant to happen, the absurdities of Brexit are continuing to stockpile.

Meanwhile, away from the glare of the spotlight, the English World Cup campaign exceeded expectations. Some encumbrances have been removed. Largely, though, it seems to have been the introduction of real values, inspired by Southgate, that have benefited the team.

Diligence and determination had a far greater effect than the entitlement of old. We should be applauding the endeavour and the absence of hubris.

In the meantime Brexit Britain implodes. David Davis is taking time out to learn about the intricacies. Boris Johnson has left to spend more time with his ego. Others will follow.

Only one man can save England now, and it isn’t the Sam Allardyce-like figure of Jeremy Corbyn.

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

Top pic montage: The Sun

From top: President Michael D. Higgins during the Presidential Inauguration ceremony at Dublin Castle on November 11, 2011 with former Presidents’ Mary Robinson( (left),  Mary McAleese (right) and Leo Varadkar (back far right); Dan Boyle

If a public election is to take place this year for the position of President, it will only be the eighth such election in the eighty year history of the office.

Of our nine Presidents to date three have been appointed without public election. One of those, Patrick Hillery, secured a second term of office without having to undergo public examination.

Two other Presidents, Séan T. O’Kelly and Mary McAleese, rolled over into second terms after securing their first terms through public election.

Only the polarising figure of Éamon de Valera has had to endure public elections to secure his first and second terms of office. His second election was a very tight squeeze, with De Valera winning by a tiny margin of 10000 votes, less than 1% of those who voted.

De Valera was 76 years of age when he first put himself forward for the position of President, a year younger than our current President is now. Of all the inhibiting factors that would question a presidential candidacy, age should be the least of them.

Michael D. Higgins, should he, as appears likely, seek a second term, would face greater criticism for going back on a promise made during the 2011 campaign not to seek re-election if elected.

There should be little concern about this if a public election takes place. The electorate then gets to decide if our President is fit, able and suitable when compared to another candidate of experience and ability.

A public election is best mechanism to achieve this. However, in the absence of alternative candidates who might be seen to do the job as well, there should not be an election for the mere sake of it.

But there should be an election. The need is to encourage a credible candidate to bring such an election about.

I was involved in a similar circumstance in 2004. Mary McAleese would have easily secured re-election had an election had transpired then. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had no appetite for an election. Neither had then Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte, who slapped down Michael D Higgins’ attempts to then to be a candidate.

Into the gap came Eamon Ryan. I became his campaign manager of sorts. There was never any belief that his candidacy would see him end up in the Áras. What was hoped for was an ability to influence a national debate while accruing a creditable vote.

Two factors worked against Eamon then. The first was an interview with Marian Finucane where he candidly admitted he had smoked cannabis, an admission that nowadays wouldn’t cause a ripple.

The second factor was uncertainty Eamon felt that he may not have had the united support of his party, without which a campaign may have floundered. Ironically gaining the required 20 Oireachtas signatures had proceeded more easily and would have been achieved.

And so a Presidential election did not take place in 2004. In 2018 those who have identified themselves as being President electable, are far from that. Would that someone would appear from the outgrowth and provide us with the choice we need.

I’m still likely to vote for Michael D though.

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

Rollingnews

From top: the author as a six-year-old cowboy fan in Chicago, Illinois; Dan Boyle

I must have been five or six years old. My  mother had sent me to my room for having committed some transgression. I was filled with childish fury at the injustice that had been done to me. 

My infantile mind searched for a comeback, finding a word I knew would annoy my Mom. I didn’t know what the word meant, but I did know that by saying it I would get a reaction. It was the N word. Each time she would pass my bedroom door I would open it to bellow my new found mantra.

Living then in Chicago, saw me pick up more than my share of bad habits. At eight years of age, along with other friends, we broke into a neighbour’s house just because we could. 

Living near a open rail line, and hanging off passing trucks, were every day hazards that made my Mother want to move the family to Ireland.

I’ve only returned to Chicago a couple of times. On the first occasion I stayed with friends of my family. They were very kind, and very generous. 

When I expressed a desire to visit my old family home, they became somewhat circumspect. It was dangerous to go there, they claimed, as it now had become a black neighbourhood.

We eventually agreed to drive through the area. What I could see, but what they couldn’t, was that the area had physically improved. What had been a working class Irish American community was now a middle class African American community.

The second time I visited I went on my own, on foot. From the city centre I took the L Line railway system, getting off at the 2nd last stop. I then took a bus for about 14 blocks (a block being about a quarter of a kilometre), walking the the last four blocks.

I found the house pretty easily, the gridiron system being a boon to the easily confused. On the porch sat an African American women. From the sidewalk I preceded to have a surreal conversation with her. “I used to live here” I said. The returned Yank in reverse. She may still look on that encounter with some puzzlement.

Chicago has not had the best of times since then. Violent deaths have been commonplace in the city. Donald Trump highlighted this and made the city an exemplar of all that was wrong with Obama’s America.

In true Trump fashion, his tirades against the city were somewhat lacking in truth. The appalling number of deaths were far from being the worst in the US, and the trend had already begun to fall. 

Trump’s taunts did have an effect, outside of the city, in the rest of the  country. It was calculated at undermining Obama, and by extension Hillary Clinton.

Prior to his becoming a State Senator, quickly followed by being elected to the US Senate, Obama had worked a lot in the Chicago Projects, in those parts of the city where poverty and attendant social problems were most concentrated.

Hillary Clinton also came from Illinois. The two of us were born in the same hospital in Chicago, although not at the same time.

I hope someday to visit Chicago again. It is a great city. Home of The Blues. A great food culture. Brilliant museums and galleries. It’s part of who I am and who I want to be. 

I don’t know when I’ll get to visit, hopefully soon. Hopefully at a time when The Great Moron is no longer casting his malevolence there.

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

From top: Delegates dancing at the close of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall last week; Dan Boyle

A general election wasn’t called this week. It was never likely to be. What we got was product testing by the three larger political groupings, which in some combination or other, will determine the make up of our next government.

The fire drill shenanigans of the past week should be looked on as Pavlovian response measurement of reactions from each respective group of supporters.

The public disdain that each lops onto their competitor parties, is the Irish political equivalent of dog whistling, where supporters hear the well worn tropes of old, but the wider and alternative meanings are meant to be understood.

At this remove these are the possible formations of future government.

1. A continuation of Fine Gael minority government – bolstered by independent/ smaller party support, kept afloat by another confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil;

2. Fianna Fáil swopping places with Fine Gael on which is the lead party of government, and which is the somewhat confident supplier;

3. An FF/FG Grand Coalition. The most feasible in terms of policy alignment, but sadly also the least likely outcome;

4. Sinn Féin coalescing with Fine Gael. This isn’t as fantastic as it might seem, but it remains an unlikely outcome. The recent eyelash fluttering between the two shouldn’t be seen as in any way being a sincere attempt at negotiating with each other. More likely it is about attempts by either to ingratiate their respective support bases; and

5. A FF/SF coalition. This is the most likely alternative to the current arrangement. Not because of any shared attachment to ‘republican’ ideals, nor to any sense of policy coherence. Both parties being malleable on the idea of policy, is the very reason why such an arrangement could work.

Fine Gael talks up Sinn Féin in order to do down Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil talks down Sinn Féin in order to protect what it sees as its pre-eminence in challenging and surpassing Fine Gael as the presumed party of government. Sinn Féin talks itself up to encourage its sense of wanting to be part of a government of equals.

We may be entering a period in Irish politics where the three parties perform like the competing empires of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia in George Orwell’s ‘1984’, coupling and decoupling to take on the discarded party at any given time.

The current narrative sees FF and FG ganging up on Sinn Féin, stating that they do not believe it to be a suitable party of government. They say this knowing that they may yet have to consider being in government with Sinn Féin.

The intent is not to shut the door on SF, the hope is that party’s support can be deflated, so that if and when the party does enter government it does so on the weakest possible basis.

This strategy may be having the opposite effect in maximising SF support levels. It may be better to talk up the prospects of Sinn Féin as a party of government.

A different strategy would be to play on Sinn Féin’s inexperience of government. Even in Northern Ireland Sinn Féin has not experienced government. The party has been part of a number of administrations there that haven’t had any responsibility in areas like taxation and welfare policy, areas that are key to the practice of government.

For its part SF needs to factor in the likelihood that being in, or being associated with fully fledged government, will lead to a diminution of its support.

Having successfully heightened its support levels over a relatively short period of time, Sinn Féin will see that support being tested, as and when it enters government.

For my part, being associated with a political party that fishes for votes among the one in four voters who want nothing to do with any of these three parties, I regret this likely consolidation of Irish politics.

I would be confident that Green support will strengthen in this more shallow pool of votes, and that a possibility exists that the party may be sought as a make weight in a minority government. Our inclination would be to continue to want to be part of government. However we should think carefully before deciding to do so.

So should Sinn Féin.

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

Rollingnews

From top: construction work in April on the Elsmore housing estate at Naas Co Kildare which includes social housing; Dan Boyle

One of the favourite jobs I have had, now reduced to a single line reference on my CV, was three years I spent as the manager of a Housing Co-op in Cork.

The Co-op, as well as seeking to meet housing need, took a particular interest in sourcing neglected buildings of architectural interest. This project operated in a barracks square that had once been an arsenal. A subsequent project brought back into use the re-development of seventeenth century almshouses in Cork city centre.

Another goal of the Co-op was an emphasis in housing allocation that sought to develop a concept of community.

Of the eight units I managed, two single men had apartments. One was a wheelchair user, a Paralympic sailor. The other was a leading light in Cork’s Gay community, and also the main mover in this and several other co-ops in the city.

A pensioner couple occupied another unit. A family with teenage children contrasted with a two sets of couples with young children. A couple without children and a single parent family made up the complement.

While this come may across as the casting of a TV reality show by a production team that think themselves really clever, the actual reality was the variety of tenants helped bring about a real, cohesive sense of community.

Voluntary housing, like this, has been and remains the spare wheel of Irish housing policy. As far as successive governments, and state agencies, have been concerned, it has been known that the voluntary housing option existed, that very occasionally use has been made of the option, but it really it has been preferred not to use the option at all.

Throughout Europe voluntary housing represents a far higher percentage of housing stock than it does in Ireland. The reason why is obvious. In other countries housing policy is more holistic in approach. In Ireland policy is viewed though a very narrow prism.

Land, castles and profit is the Trinity that informs Irish housing policy. The desire to own, inculcated in the Irish psyche since the days of the Land League in the 19th century, has long passed its passion as the weapon to achieve a more equal society, to now being one of the instruments that is bringing about greater inequality.

Social housing gets a bad rap. Our main party of government seems to have a particular allergic reaction to the concept. This has probably been informed by attitudes shown by radio show text responders, whenever the subject gets mentioned.

Why should some people get houses for ‘free’ when I work hard to pay my mortgage – is a view that constantly gets aired. Such reductionist views conveniently ignore that those in social housing don’t get to own their homes.

Those who who buy houses acquire guaranteed long term appreciating assets. This on its own is one of the biggest factors in a widening wealth gap, generational in nature with an older generation owning, and a younger generation finding it impossible to own.

Only an ambitious social housing programme, State funded, and managed by local authorities and voluntary agencies, can kick start supply, reduce costs (especially social costs) and especially bring about a community approach to housing allocation, we have so sorely lacked to date.

Instead this government will continue to put its faith in the Construction Industry Federation, and with them a belief that the market will solve everything. It won’t. Some will become even more wealthy. Most will find it ever more difficult to be housed.

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

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