From top: Eamon Gilmore and Richard Bruton ; Dan Boyle

President Mary Davis.

Taoiseach Richard Bruton.

Two Greens in cabinet.


An alternative history.

By Dan Boyle:

June 2007. The Green Party negotiators were chastened on withdrawing from talks on the formation of a government, but they wouldn’t be asked back to the table by Fianna Fáil.

Bertie Ahern, who wanted the assurance of additional Green votes, was re-elected Taoiseach by the members of the outgoing government, which included the much reduced Progressive Democrats and the gene pool independents.

Within a year testimony at the Mahon Tribunal had undone Ahern. Brian Cowen was elected leader of Fianna Fáil by acclamation.

Before being elected as Taoiseach Cowen sought talks with the new Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore. Stressing the need for a government with a stronger majority, he also stated that the 1993-94 government was one he felt was working and he wanted to re-establish that ‘natural’ relationship.

In June 2008 the second FF/Labour government was formed. The PDs and gene pool independents were jettisoned.

Eamon Gilmore was to be Tánaiste one of four Labour Party ministers with an additional five Labour Ministers of State. Brian Lenihan was appointed Minister for Finance.

One of the Labour’s conditions for entering government was an immediate budget, the effect of which was to greatly increase public expenditure.

The PDs, who had been discussing winding down the party, select Liz O’Donnell, now in the Seanad, as their new leader.

The Dáil had barely reconvened to consider the finance bill when a meeting was requested by the heads of the major financial institutions, to discuss fears of threats to the liquidity of banks.

The meeting hosted by Brian Cowen, was also attended by Brian Lenihan and Eamon Gilmore. It decides the government should introduce an all embracing bank guarantee.

Huge adjustments needed to be made to the finance bill, which included the introduction of a new universal social charge on gross income.

Whatever public goodwill was held by the government quickly dissipated. In the Local and European elections in 2009, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin were the big winners. Brian Crowley was the only FF MEP elected. Labour failed to win a seat. In Dublin, Eamon Ryan won a seat again for The Greens.

In the the resulting Dublin South by-election Liz O’Donnell returned to the Dáil.

Despite successful midterm elections a push against Enda Kenny begins in Fine Gael, where mumblings grow over his parliamentary performance. This results in Richard Bruton becoming leader. He appoints Lucinda Creighton as his deputy.

Labour in government tries to push a social change agenda and forces a referendum on Blasphemy, which passes, while also introducing civil partnership.

Public finances continue to deteriorate. By the middle of 2010 negative noises from Europe force the government to apply to the International Monetary Fund.

Collectively FF and Labour determine to serve full term to seek to regain lost public trust.

In 2011 the government selects Michael D. Higgins as a joint candidate. He loses to independent candidate Mary Davis.

Under the tutelage of the Trioka a number of measures are introduced, including water charges and a property tax. Three quarters of the budget adjustment is achieved by the time of the general election in 2012. The sad death of Brian Lenihan had seen Michéal Martin take over the Finance portfolio.

There is no political benefit. FF loses half its seats, Labour slips into single figures. Fine Gael, and to a lesser extent Sinn Féin, are again the big winners. Three Greens and two PDs were elected along with fifteen others. Michéal Martin becomes leader of Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael, by far the largest party, forms a government with nine Labour and three Green TDs. Joan Burton becomes Tánaiste but is one of only two Labour cabinet ministers. Trevor Sargent becomes Minister for the Environment, with his colleague John Gormley a new Minister for State with responsibility for development aid.

Within six months of the new government the Trioka withdrew and Ireland came out of the IMF programme. Despite engaging in austerity light the new government was soon enjoying similar unpopularity levels as its predecessor. The Local and European elections of 2014 were not kind to any of the government parties.

By 2015 talk of a new political party being established and being successful was reaching a crescendo. The government’s main hopes to regain public support were for the country’s rugby team to win the World Cup, and for a new national spirit being found during the centenary 1916 celebrations…

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

(Mark Stedman/RollingNews)

49 thoughts on “What If…

  1. MajorThrill

    If Broadsheet is publishing political fan fiction I’ve got “Repeal the ATE! – A zombie Dail adventure” and “The Erotic conquests of Richard Bruton” sitting unpublished on my hard drive.

    1. erm...

      Former senator Dan Boyle.

      The ‘sendboyle’ of his twitter handle should be read ‘send boyle’ rather than ‘sen d boyle’, a convenient deconstruction that should in no way be misinterpreted as being intentionally misleading.

  2. veritas

    It’s beginning to look like there is a political agenda behind publishing this series of musings from Dan Boyle,is this just BS trying to rehabilitate a party of arrogant incompetents or just B—s— for the sake of it.

  3. pardon

    They publish the musings of the French Canadian Dr.Geography. Every Monday I muse about what a fair little nation we are in giving a platform to all that are lacking in self doubt , albeit unfair if you support meritocracy. At least Dan is coherent, logical , intelligent and able to write.

  4. ahjayzis

    Er, wouldn’t Martin McGuinness or Gay Mitchell (lol) be president if Labour and FF had united and lost on Michael D and Sean Gallagher hadn’t been FF’s stalking horse? Mary Davis got 2.7% of the first preference vote, even Gay Mitchell (lol) got more than twice that.

    Would Labour really increase public expenditure as late as 2007 when we were already aware we were headed for choppy waters and they were already in government and four years from an election?

    Soooo many total leaps of faith and total impossibilities here it doesn’t even qualify as an alternative history, it’s fan fiction.

  5. Owen C

    Dan seems to think that the Greens were obliterated because of the guarantee and bailout. Most reasonable people would suggest they were obliterated because they served no particular purpose while in coalition.

    1. Medium Sized C

      Most reasonable people would consider doing a great deal of what you set out to do in your manifesto to be serving a purpose in the government.

      You are not speaking for most reasonable people.
      The Greens were obliterated because of the bailout, it is quite clearly what most people blame the greens for.
      When you hear people ragging on the greens, they almost invariably blame them for not collapsing the Government before the bailout could go through.

      1. scottser

        not so sure about that. most folks remember the greens for gormley’s u-turn on the poolbeg incinerator, the carbon tax and thei rutter lack of cajones in standing up to FF. i wouldn’t have saddled them with bailout miasma – i save that for cowen and the lads.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Sigh… There was no uturn on Poolbeg. It wasn’t in any facilitated by John Gormley. We sought to introduce an incineration levy that Phil Hogan discarded.
          Carbon tax is still there and has been raised since.
          And never standing up to FF? Ask Willie O’Dea about that.

          1. Malta

            Troika, Dan, Troika. Not fupping trioka.

            Also, fwiw, I chose to play my part in the obliteration of the greens simply cos you went into coalition with FF to begin with.

          2. Dan Boyle

            Yes that spell has already been made. And I get your disappointment. No one should ever go into government with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, meaning only they should ever be in government.

          3. Continuity Jay-Z

            Why didn’t you pull out of government on the countless times you should have? You were all greedy sods protecting your pensions. That is why you were obliterated and it is why only a lobotomized moron would ever vote Green again.

          4. Dan Boyle

            Because pulling out of government wouldn’t have changed anything. Have you not seen the government that followed?

          5. Mé Féin

            Sigh all you want, Boyle. The Greens will be remembered for being sell outs (Rossport, incinerator, autistic kids, etc., etc). You made a lot of promises you had no intention of keeping. FF’s sheer incompetence had little to do with your wipe out.

  6. Tony Stanza

    You’d think that Masters in Public Policy he’s paying for in UCC would have taught him how to spell Troika.

  7. Unreconstructed

    In another fantasy the Greens do not betray their principles and join a FF led government in 2007. They do not sleepwalk the country into the bank guarantee and the bailout. They do not continue to prop up the rotting, drunken corpse of the Cowen government for 2 years beyond when it should have collapsed in ignominy. They do not turn up on social media sites like Broadsheet, 4 years after being deservedly cast into the bin by a disgusted electorate, spouting nonsense and political “thought” as if they had anything original or useful to say in the first place. Could Boyle disappear off into the sunset in his own fantasy world, taking his comfortable swag of a pension with him and, in the name of god, keep his pointless and inane witterings to himself? Any chance of that?

    1. J

      …or the Irish people decided to forgo their penchant for hot tubs, decking,propertayyyyy, Marbella ,designer handbags and not give another mandate to FF to form any type of government in 2007….

    2. New Person A

      methinks the lady doth protest too much
      Whether or not I disagree with Dan or his party’s policy there’s a good chance they a believed in what they were doing that it was good and b wanted to serve the country and actually Dan did contest a few elections and c did actually try to do some good

      The sad thing is they were wrong on a and didn’t heed the lessons from b and c well the electorate didn’t agree

  8. Dan Boyle

    It’s a light hearted piece folks, not meant to be taken that seriously. But how is the Greens losing seats, getting into another government, that still ends up unpopular ‘fan fiction’?

    1. Frilly Keane

      I dunno bhoy
      But then I don’t any of the poo ya come out wi’

      But speakinf of fiction
      Look more like yer man
      The Green Lantern
      And ya never know

    2. bisted

      Hi Dan…your credentials as a fantasist were never in doubt. Your credibility however, and that of the green party, have been tested at the highest level and the electorate have responded. Please heed what Unreconstructed says above.

        1. J

          To quote Clive James, “common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing”.
          Busted bisted , please heed what BS commentariat say about you.

          1. Continuity Jay-Z

            What are you up to thjis weather John Gormley? Are you still poothering round the hot house trying to grow a pair?

    1. bisted

      …I appear to have a stalker…thanks Broadsheet…does this mean I’m a celebrity, like Dan.

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