Do Look In Anger



A Homeless man in Molesworth Street, Dublin

Dan Boyle writes:

The death of homeless man a stone’s throw from Leinster House will give many pause for thought. No doubt it will be raised there as the political football of the day. That may create some rethink on releasing some small additional resources, but soon again, I fear, the issue of homelessness will be as intractable as it has ever seemed to be.

While a member of the Oireachtas I was aware of about a dozen similar perches within five hundred meters of Leinster House. It wouldn’t be fair to suggest there was or has been there any indifference. When being lobbied, speaking with homeless charities, their frustration was obvious at the lack of any co-ordinated approach to the issue.

Each homeless person lives a unique life. There may be factors in common such as addiction, mental health or economic need but all combine differently to define the circumstances of each homeless person.

The homeless man I remember on Molesworth Street (given the length of time I hope not the same person) would spend his waking time at the same spot shouting abuse at whoever passed by. It didn’t really matter who was being shouted at, on the law of averages by walking down that street you had to be a person with some influence and a certain degree of responsibility.

Then why the passivity of the political system? Why because to those to whom the political system is the narrow mechanism of getting and staying elected, it is not seen to be an issue ‘that had votes in it’.
That observation may add to further cynicism in which politics itself is held, however, it does reflect a sentiment that is found in wider Irish society.

The political agenda is set by those who shout loudest and produce the largest numbers. It is an agenda that has been largely untouched by the issue of homelessness because it is believed that for most people, it has been put into a metaphorical box marked ‘It Doesn’t Affect Me’.
Each of us not only has a responsibility to give homelessness the importance it deserves, but also to further question how we have developed a society where issues of homelessness have been kept on the periphery, while issues of far less significance have preoccupied us.

If we are to be angry let us be angry at this.

Dan Boyle is a former TD and Senator and member of the Green Party.

Dan Boyle (Facebook)

Previously: Less Than 50 Metres From The Dáil

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

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77 thoughts on “Do Look In Anger

  1. Am I Still on this Island.

    Part of the reason we’re in this mess is because of people like Dan Boyle. The Fianna Fail-Green coalition bankrupted this country.

    1. C Sharp

      Have you a keyboard shortcut to spit out that comment anytime a Green party member says anything, ever?

  2. Randy Ewing

    I sense a Dan Boyle protest song in the works.
    The sympathy vote will get him the christmas No. 1 slot.
    Then on to the Eurovision.
    Next we know it’ll be pics of Dan & Kanye smashing up water meters on stage at Coachella !

  3. kerryview

    Ahh Dan. Didn’t take you long. You write “Then why the passivity of the political system? Why because to those to whom the political system is the narrow mechanism of getting and staying elected, it is not seen to be an issue ‘that had votes in it’ “.
    Were you not a bleeding edge member of the self same ‘political system’ ?

    1. Mani

      Maybe if Dan halved his daily calorie intake and donated that food to Simon he could make a genuine difference.

      1. scottser

        the glib @sshole approach isn’t really working out for you today mani. you’re straying into ‘jock’ territory..

  4. SOMK

    “It wouldn’t be fair to suggest there was or has been there any indifference. “


    “Sure we ignored the problem, just like every other previous government, but you see the important thing is that we ignored it with feeling.”

    “When being lobbied, speaking with homeless charities, their frustration was obvious at the lack of any co-ordinated approach to the issue.”

    Just curious but when you guys were establishing the biggest property portfolio on the planet were you lobbied by homeless charities then? Perhaps they mentioned an initiative in Utah called housing first where they (you’re not going to believe this Dan!) gave houses to the homeless (I know who’d a thunk it?) and that actually saves money. Did it occur to you, as you stepped over and by homeless people on your way into your six-figure salary job, that with 300,000 empty homes in the country, and the biggest property portfolio on the planet being established, that maybe here was a once in a generation opportunity to at least save some vulnerable people, by insisting that there’s be a proper social housing mechanism built into NAMA.

    Never mind, I’m sure even in not doing a damn bloody thing when you had the chance you at least weren’t indifferent about not doing a damn bloody thing, it would be unfair to suggest otherwise.

    “Why because to those to whom the political system is the narrow mechanism of getting and staying elected, it is not seen to be an issue ‘that had votes in it’.”

    I guess that’s why we now have a Green government following your peerless handling of the financial crises.

    “If we are to be angry let us be angry at this.”

    Bloody hell Dan careful you don’t break the skin now washing those hands so vigorously.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Some huge assumptions you make there. You have no knowledge of what I did and didn’t do. I have tried I didn’t succeed. The wider problem is the vacuum that exists on the issue. It certainly won’t be solved by sanctimony.

      1. scottser

        there is no ‘vacuum’ on this issue. what there is however, is a social housing shortage, an unprofessional and unqualified landlord class, a toothless PRTB, frontline staff shortages and a lack of housing sustainment supports. there’s absolutely no point in creating more emergency beds because they get clogged up due to a lack of move-on options. housing people is cheaper, safer and more sustainable, always.

        when the greens were in power, local authorities chose to take the part V financial contributions from developers instead of housing stock. ye were about cash flow and balance sheets with a short-term focus without any thought to what happens when the well runs dry. and that’s not just confined to housing. the housing market is far too important to be left to the market to decide how it operates. it needs serious regulation right now, and if i was alan kelly, the first thing i’d do is commandeer all rented housing under compulsory purchase order and have them managed by professional voluntary housing agencies.

        1. Dan Boyle

          As I’ve already said development fees collaborated when we went into government. Social Housing stopped because of the excess of housing. We did include social provisions in the NAMA legislation it’s been a huge disappointment that it hasn’t been acted on.

          1. scottser

            social housing did not ‘stop’ – the waiting lists got longer as people were priced out of the market. in fact rent supplement increased a total of 4 times during the green’s tenure with FF and 4 times rent prices were hiked by an unregulated landlord class, many of whom were either FF or green voters.

            as for nama legislation ye made ILLEGAL for nama to provide any assets for social use; it’s brief was to maximise revenue from toxic assets so they couldn’t and still can’t transfer a site for a school, library, social housing etc.

        1. Nigel

          How dare he not spin like a series of Fianna Gael ministers after a homeless man is found dead near Leinster House!

  5. Dan Boyle

    Not surprised but this cynicism, abuse and total ignoring of the issue at hand. It is the exactly the point I’ve been making. How superficial can be people be when they read content then form opinion on the basis of who has written it? I’m talking about shared responsibility and not seeking to blame others for somehow being more responsible.
    I get it I’m overweight and my being in politics has seen little changed that I wanted to change. None of that stops me believing in things and encouraging others the share such views. I’m not going to be a candidate in the next general election. I figure it’s someone else turn to take on the bile.

      1. Kieran NYC

        I’m sure you can impress all your friends by saying you mocked someone well-known on the internet today, talking about… What was it again?

        Address the issue at hand and stop being a d1ck.

        1. Mani

          Where was this zeal when he was in office? This entire stance has as much substance as a paper fart. If this came from someone who wasn’t part of a government that could have made a genuine difference I’d give him the time of day.

          1. The Citizen

            Give it a rest Mani, you’re appearing tiresome and a little sad.

            Well done Mr. Boyle – refreshing to hear what sounds like honesty.

    1. Papa P

      “How superficial can be people be when they read content then form opinion on the basis of who has written it?”

      Its the “do as I say attitude” that drives the opinion.
      You;d a chance to do something and didn’t.

        1. dinjo

          I think Dan’s right.. if Puten was lecturing on how to achieve peace in Ukraine in 10 years time.. it shouldn’t matter that it was Puten, we should listen to the message, not the person…

    2. MC

      Man laments social issue being used as political football then catches it and takes 8 steps. Ref blows the whistle for over-carrying, man complains to ref and won’t give football back.

  6. pissedasanewt

    I’m not sure how much power the greens had while in government. Just enough to get in a plastic bag tax (that members of that government still bandie about as if it was a ground breaking initiative, when it was just a Ryanair type of tax – what can we charge them for), carbon tax etc. When we were raking in money hand over fist in stamp duty. But they didn’t have enough power to prevent developers from paying their way out of providing social housing in each development they built.

    However, ignoring the fact we can’t house those that need homes, this man fell in with the wrong crowd as a teenager and struggled with addiction his whole life (I read this somewhere else), in 25+ years from when his problems started he never came in contact with a government or charity network that could have helped him get away from his addiction and keep him clean. We spend a fortune on locking up scumbags and keeping them locked up with tv’s and some of the comforts of home, yet if you don’t cause trouble enough trouble you are left to die on the streets. Maybe if he’d broken into Leinster house and trashed a few offices of TD’s he might have got locked up in a minimum security prison where he could at least get fed and been kept warm.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Wrong timeline. We didn’t introduce plastic bag levy. Developer fees as well as most tax receipts collapsed as we went into government. But again as you want someone to blame I’m your man.

  7. Joxer

    Dan, Believing in something is great and being passionate about it is even better. The next step, then, when one is given the power to do something about it is to take positive steps to ensure that the problem is fixed. The Greens in government acted with the same wilful indifference that the other parties have acted with so dont come the martyred hero here. you guys were elected by people who wanted change and what you delivered was the same aul guff – looking after your own interests. Unfortunately the Green Party has had its day for a generation and as someone who was hoodwinked by you and your colleagues i mourn the fact that what you guys promised was never delivered.

    1. Dan Boyle

      We didn’t act with indifference. Being in government isn’t the ability to solve everything immediately. We did ring fence funding. We did managed to stem the flow. The problem as I’ve said is a lack of a co-ordinated approach involving several government departments that still isn’t happening.

      1. Joxer

        but why, when you were in Govt, didnt you get those departments – they were, after all, answerable to you as a deputy – together and bang some heads? Strikes me that when the banks came flapping around Leinster House there was a swift and immediate action taken to shore them up. Surely the fact that people were and still are dying on our streets would merit some sort of definitive action rather than a wringing of hands and an “I feel your pain” mentality and the crocodile tears.

        Just when were the GP going to ride to the rescue of irish society? after 3 years? after 4 years? next time you get into power?

        as i see it you took the money and kept the gravy train rocking along nicely. Great work, great work!

        1. Nigel

          Oh, I love this. Property bubble popping, global financial institutions crumbling, enough money to paper the moon wasted every other day on doomed boondoggles, suddenly everyone’s feeling The Fear and and thinking the whole soft landing thing might be a load of bollix, BUT we vote in the same feckers YET AGAIN, and still it’s THE GREENS fault that everything somehow inexplicably didn’t turn out okay! Every time I get mad at them yet again for getting suckered into that coaliton, someone like you comes along to remind me what they’re up against.

  8. scottser

    don’d want to speak out of turn here, but from what i can gather john corrie was made homeless from carlow. the local authority will only place you in a 6 month bed if you’re made homeless from its area ie, your last permanent address for 12 months or more was within the jurisdiction of the local authority. it’s likely that he was redirected back to carlow to register as homeless or face using the nightly freephone service if he stayed in dublin. a sh1te situation to find yourself in, with your days and nights so insecure.

    now it’ll be political footballs, media hysteria and a somewhat cynical attempt by the charities to seek more funding. it’s the same every xmas..

    1. Mani

      Saw journos interviewing a homeless girl near work at lunch time. Yer man gave her his business card. Which at least she could use for filters if stuck.

    2. Alfred E. Neumann

      According to the Times, he seems to have turned down emergency accommodation in Dublin. I’m not sure why. They seem to have a fairly prim attitude to drink and such.

  9. Fairhill

    Is there a Green charm offensive this week ? I was bewildered to see Eamon Ryan on Vinny last night trying to defend the excise on petrol, which is a bigger reason to protest than water charges. The people spoke to the Green Party I don’t think you guys are listening closely enough. If there is a need again for a minority party to go into government and cost us all more money we know where you are.

    1. Dan Boyle

      And that’s the type of prioritisation that sees issues like homelessness marginalised. If the Greens are supported or not is irrelevant. Let’s stick to our pet peeves and we’ll all be all right.

      1. Fair hill

        If the whole country wasn’t living week to week they might have more time to prioritise other people and issues.

        Very few people have the benefit of ministerial pensions and “nobody voted for me”money to fall back on which would give us more time to prioritise other people. A lot of people believe that this should be dealt with by governments, and not by individuals.

      1. ollie

        dan, we tried but didn’t succeed? you were a member of the Dail for 9 years, and a TD when the country was awash with money. Your legacy? nothing.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Actually no we were in government for three and a half years when the country wasn’t awash with money.

  10. Alfred E. Neumann

    His point, as I understand it, seems perfectly fair. If people don’t care enough about an issue to let it affect their political behaviour, that’s a very clear signal to politicians to put the resources elsewhere. I can’t remember homelessness ever being a marching issue, and I doubt it will become one now.

  11. fluffybiscuits


    I think the issue was the Green party seemed to be ridden up the ar*e by FF when they got into govt and did not appear to keep FF in check.

    I mean how much did the GP crow about Shell to Sea before they got into power but never did anything about it? There was power to change things.

    Gormleys words at time they pulled out of the coalition

    “For a very long time we in the Green Party have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fáil could resolve persistent doubts about their party leadership. A definitive resolution of this has not yet been possible. And our patience has reached an end”

    1. Dan Boyle

      If there was power to change things the power would have been used. Until you partake you don’t realise how limited government is.

      1. fluffybiscuits

        Look at it this way

        You could have pulled out of govt earlier, called a snap election and instead of ending up on the opposition benches made a realistic chance for yourselves to put together a govt that could. Labour is doing the same mistake that the GP did.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Again none of this is about homelessness. I believe in having taken a responsibility you should see it through. An early election would have seen this government elected earlier and a stronger FF presence. What there should have been and still should be is a national government.

          1. fluffybiscuits

            Taking responsibility Dan is not just about staying in govt, its about taking responsibility for the people of Ireland and how you can serve them best. This may not necessarily mean staying with FF, this could have meant having an early election and knowing if you had done a job good enough in the first place, you would be relected then so you can see it through properly.

          2. Fair hill

            Are you now saying clinging on to, power longer then you should have was a strategy to make sure FF were devastated at the last election?

            I’m confused because it looked more like clinging on to power at all costs

      2. Fair hill

        I think people are finally starting to realise how limited the Government and people who partake in it are, and should be able to march against this over the coming months.

        1. fluffybiscuits

          Dan if he truly believes the govt are limited should have sought to change all that then by getting his party to develop a strategy to get a bigger slice of the action.

  12. YourNan

    isn’t this issue the fact this guy was an alcoholic who refused to use the shelters because of his drinking habit?

  13. droid

    Fair play to Dan for defending his position here. He is right about many things, there are many deep seated systemic issues in irish politics that cannot and will not be changed by any single party without massive changes in attitudes and approach to politics.

    That said, The Green’s DO hold responsibility for their actions. They should have gotten out far sooner, they should have insisted on a say in the bank guarantee, there is a huge list of minor and major mistakes, partly due to naivety and partly due to the junior coalition mindset of fixating on micro issues whilst the macro falls apart. Ciaran Cuffe was right – they should never have gone into power with centre right and far right parties and I for one will never vote for them again after the combination of betrayal of principles and incompetence displayed during their time in office.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Again not about homelessness but even in support there are assertions which don’t hold with experience. One a central right party has always been in government in Ireland. After the next election there is likely to be one again, if not two. Suggesting a progressive party should never go into government in those circumstances is akin to saying they should never be in government.
      Leaving the last government earlier would have led to this government being elected earlier and the same politics put into place. Competence is subjective but I would argue that Green competence has been no worse than what has followed. Seeking to be in government is not a betrayal, it may be a failure, but seeking to be in government to try to bring about change should always be seen as a positive motivation.

  14. Too big for my boots

    Indeed. Fair play to you Dan for keeping up the dialogue. I have to admit that I thought it was going tits up around the middle but you stuck to your guns and made some valid retorts.
    As I see it most peoples issue with the greens is that they were ‘supposed’ to keep FF in check and they didn’t do a great job at that. You gave some reasons for that and people can take them or leave them.
    Discourse with our legislators is very welcome and I commend you for that.

  15. Lilly

    At least George Lee had the good grace to abandon ship when he discovered his hands were tied. Shame the Greens didn’t have the integrity to do likewise.

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