On Brother Kelly’s Doorstep



From top: Minister for the Environment and deputy Labour Party leader Alan Kelly with Joan Burton after her election as Labour Party leader, July 2014 ; Dan Boyle

Labour’s dour deputy leader’s rise has been meteoric.

And he has managed to keep at least one principle intact.

Dan Boyle writes:

Alan Kelly to me was the journeyman Republic of Ireland goalkeeper in our dark days of international competition. That’s Alan Kelly Senior and not his son, who was to follow his father into that position.

These days I’m forced to accept that Alan Kelly, as most known and acknowledged, is Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for the Environment.

I have to admit a certain ambivalence towards Mr. Kelly. If political success is measured solely on electoral success then Alan Kelly’s performance has been stellar.

Elected to a local authority at the first time of asking, he performed the same trick in being elected to Seanad Éireann. There I served with him never impressed with his particular style of bluster.

In a climate of economic collapse and government unpopularity, election to the European Parliament was the next hurdle that was easily cleared. That no one believed his promise to serve a full term was immaterial.

Election to the Dáil in 2011 also proved to be a doddle. Being appointed a Minister for State on his first day was an added extra. Eamon Gilmore’s resignation as Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party opened up a new series of opportunities.

Identifying the Deputy Leader of Labour contest, his victory ensured he would be appointed a member of the cabinet. He would become Minister for the Environment, not because of any natural affinity, but because it provided a place at the top table. This is where it starts to unravel. The belief that electoral success is of itself essence of political success.

In management studies there is a theory known as the Peter Principle where people, especially those whose ascent has been meteoric, are promoted to their perceived level of incompetence. This is particularly true of politics.

Winning elections is one thing. Achieving positive political change another. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government offers many potential policies on which a ministerial incumbent can be measured.

Has a better quality of local democracy been produced; more effective planning; improved building regulations; increased housing supply? Has homelessness been addressed? Has the issue of water been put behind us? As a checklist it’s clear that progress hasn’t been made in any of these areas, and in some the situation is worsening.

And that’s before we get to consider the environmental aspect of his brief. Alan Kelly has been the Minister most indifferent to environmental issues since Ray Burke. Given that he is the direct successor of Phil Hogan that isn’t something to boast about.

Not that any of this matters to him. He is likely to maintain his perfect electoral record. He seems well positioned to be the next leader of the Labour Party. With that Irish politics will have produced a perfectly symmetrical example of the Peter Principle.

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


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35 thoughts on “On Brother Kelly’s Doorstep

  1. fluffybiscuits

    He hardly lives in reality. The homeless issue and added to that Irish Water he has not set himself from the pack. Were a person to go on social media they would see he has not endeared himself to most people…

  2. ahjayzis

    If he’s made leader of the fetid corpse of the Labour party after the GE they’ll have signed their own death warrant. Thoroughly unlikeable guy.

    1. Joss

      Always seemed an odd fit for Labour. A journalist pal told me that he was the single most unpleasant and arrogant person that he’d had the misfortune to interview.

  3. panga

    fast tracked into government to facilitate the privatisation of Irish Water. Checkout his brother Declan Kelly… CEO of Teneo Holdings….

    1. Walter-Ego

      When i read the headline “on-brother-kellys-doorstep”, i thought, finally some journalist are going to talk about Teneo Holdings and their acquisition of water supplies around the world. Now there is a “Sinister Fringe”

  4. perricrisptayto

    Alan Kelly senior was never a journeyman goalkeeper.
    Spent all his pro career with Preston.
    What’s with the love affair between Broadsheet and Dan whatsname anyhow?
    Alan Kellys rise in politics is no accident either, hand picked for the job, needs plenty of watching does that lad.

  5. DubLoony

    “Winning elections is one thing. Achieving positive political change another.”
    Says the ex-Green who supported FF in the economic collapse of the country.

    So he doesn’t like Alan Kelly. Cracking analysis there…

  6. peckerhead

    I live in his electoral constituency and he’s the only Labour candidate (there aren’t many) to whom I have not yet given a vote. My hand just kinda shrivels back when the pencil hovers over the empty box next to his name. Smug, sneaky, and with a neck lke a jockey’s testicles. He’ll go far.

  7. ollie

    Replace the words “Alan Kelly” with “The Green Party” in Dan’s article and your’e transported back to 2010

  8. nellyb

    In fairness to Kelly, the “not because of any natural affinity, but because it provided a place at the top table” is a standard in our government. With a few exceptions.

  9. mauriac

    Ireland really needs an elite political management institute like the french ENA for cival servants and with mandatory refresher\basic courses for TDs.

    1. Neilo

      I’ve never thought that ENArques are really all that: France’s economy isn’t exactly flying – the Eurozone has its part to play there, of course – and the civil service remains ripe for reform. I agree that decent training would help both the temporary and permanent government.

      1. mauriac

        sixth largest economy in the world though.quite dynamic in certain sectors with a highly productive workforce.growth is off but improving.
        second largest diplomatic corps after US currently organizing Cop21 to mitigate climate change.So ENA grad Hollande isn’t the worst.

  10. bisted

    …this day was sure to arrive…I’m nodding in agreement with Dan. Alan Kelly is all bluster and no substance. And one thing that Dan is certainly an authority on is bluster and lack of substance.
    I disagree that Kelly has been promoted to the point of incompetence though. Like Dan, he was lacking in any competence in the first place and like Dan, his talent seems to have been an opportunist in the right place at the right time.
    I hope you are wrong about him being re-elected. I hope he follows you into political oblivion – albeit with a bigger pension.

    1. Neilo

      Leo Varadkar is a street fighter in political parlance. Kelly is cut from the same cloth. I don’t know if he willl be re-elected, but I expect/fear that he will be fine either way.

    1. ollie

      dubloony are you f***ing serious?
      Irish water plan includes a committiment to “establish effective communication channels with customers” and to “establish national customer service standards” and to “building and maintaining accurate customer databases” to ensure “accurate customer services and billing”.
      All of the above should be in place from day 1 of any business, yet you laud a dsyfunctional organisation headed by a businesss failure and suported by a minister who’s clueless.

    2. ollie

      Also Dublony, this document isn’t a plan for anything. It’s a glossy glorified mission statement that is totally lacking in detail. If I commissioned it I wouldn’t pay the consultants for producing such crap.

  11. Christopher

    A useless politician- his only skill seems to be in getting elected (he was one of the first Irish politicians to use social media and cringe some videos to get his name recognised). As someone who is renting and fearing my next rent review I cannot believe he is bleating on about rent certainty (controls). The will do NOTHING except ensure my next increase is going to be bigger than I anticipated.

    He is everything that is wrong with the Labour party- he stands for nothing except being elected.

  12. ahjayzis

    I’ll never, ever underestimate the stupidity, parochialism and general vacant-eyed sheepishness of the good people of Tipperary when it comes to elections.

  13. octo

    Good work Dan, feck the begrudgers.

    Yes, I’ve seen Alan Kelly in action up close. He hasn’t the first clue about very very basic environmental principles. He’s a first class blusterer and bullsh*tter though. It’s scary that he has so much responsibility.

  14. Liam Deliverance

    Ha ha, thats gas, Kelly is the Deputy Leader of Labour, ha ha, I didn’t know that, thought he was another yes guy who must have done Edna a personal favour of some sort to get the important post that he has. Ha ha, and Joan is the actual leader of Labour, hee hee, and people may actually vote for these clowns. He does SFA for 5 years and now he feigns interest in doing a bit of work.The man that brought Water to Ireland ho ho. I’d feel sorry for the Labour grass-roots who will soon be going doo to door to try and defend these shitehawks. You’d need a neck o’ brass. If Labour are going to continue to exist after GE then we should insist that they change their name.

  15. Truth in the News

    What did Dan Boyle or the Green Party do for the environment either, in fact
    they have been responsible for blighting the landscape with wind turbine’s and
    pylons…..as to Kelly he’ll soon be gone too.

    1. Dan Boyle

      If you think the landscaped is blighted by turbines then you haven’t an inkling as to how we’re going to meet our future energy needs. Greens have played a important and honourable role in Irish politics and will continue to do so.

      1. rotide

        Couldn’t agree more. I’ll never understand people complaining about turbines blighting the landscape. I happen to think they look pretty stately but regardless of how you think they look they are nessecary and hopefully in the future will be ubiquitous.

        As for the pylons, Maybe Truth wants to go back to the good old days of mangles.

  16. Claude DaVincI

    I really wouldn’t be too sure him automatically getting elected In GE. The big change from last time In Tipperary is that It is now a single 5 seater as opposed to last time when it was 2 separate 3 wearer constituencies. The larger constituency was South Tipp. He ran in North Tipp. The Labour candidate at the last election in South Tipp (Phil Prendergast) did abysmally considering the over Labour result (seamus healy gets the working class left vote in these parts). He won’t even pick up those votes considering he closed the council offices here, never shows his face in the largest town in the county and thinks that pulling some strings to get a towpath built from Clonmel to Carrick will see him right. If people stopped making automatic assumptions about Tipperary voters, they’d see how in danger his seat is

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