The Germans Have A Word For It



Top (from left Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Joan Burton and Ged Nash last year: Dan Boyle

His predictions were almost spot on.

Time then for some schadenfreudin’.

Dan Boyle writes:

I wouldn’t be the gambling type. At least not with money. It could be argued that on more than a few occasions I have let my fate up to the Gods.

I have, however, welched on one bet. Made in the dying embers of what is now the government before last, it was the Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin.

We were in the Members Bar of Leinster House. I was expressing the hope that The Greens might return two TDs in the form of Trevor Sargent and Eamon Ryan. Not a hope says the bould Brendan dancing with glee already then on our yet to be dead corpse.

There was something in the sheer nastiness of his approach that goaded me into accepting a challenge I shouldn’t have. I subsequently never honoured the bet, fearing the sadistic glee in which it would have been received.

The Germans have a word for it. I can’t lie and say I haven’t felt a least some of that enjoyment from the Labour Party’s current predicament. It is though an enjoyment mixed with a small degree of sympathy.

The decent members of a proud party were sold myths about ‘saving the country’ by those who wanted to hold office just one more time. I have choked on the irony of listening to many Labour spokespersons talk about, despite knowing their party was being damaged, that the national interest came first.

When Greens were making the same arguments in 2011 it was Labour representatives who were doing the most baying.

There has also been an element of Stockholm syndrome in merging with, then becoming unidentifiable with, their coalition partners.

The Fine Gael failure has been just as marked. There are many reasons why Fine Gael has never come out of government successfully, none of which the party will ever admit to itself.

A story John Gormley once told me, which I’ve written about before, bears retelling. Before he was in elected politics FG canvassers called to his house.

Asking them what they thought the difference between FG and FF were they advanced what they believed was the killer argument.

“I think you’ll find in Fine Gael there is a better class of person”.

The sad thing is that many of their members do believe this. This sense of priggishness, that only they have the moral fibre and character to act on behalf of the nation, is the characteristic trait most seen and least liked by the general public.

There is little likelihood the party will suddenly develop any sense of modesty yet.

It’s reward may be to remain in office but with power removed, this now placed more firmly into the hands of its errant sibling, Fianna Fáil.

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

75 thoughts on “The Germans Have A Word For It

  1. ollie

    No party, including the Greens , has put the people of Ireland first.
    It’s party, Country, cronies, Citizens, always.

      1. Anomanomanom

        Well FF summed it best with Brian Cowan, never forget this, They thought he was good enough to run the country but not to run the FF party. Really says a lot about them.

    1. Nigel

      If any party put the country first, it was the Greens. Look where it got them. Your abiding hatred, for a start.

  2. ahjayzis

    “The decent members of a proud party were sold myths about ‘saving the country’ by those who wanted to hold office just one more time.”

    Very well put. It was only as the eliminations continued that I remembered what great, progressive, energetic young deputies Labour had. Where have they been? The dried up geriatrics leading them in government had nothing to lose in becoming an FG branch office.

    The fact that the survivors are those same desicated husks of politicians on the cusp of pensionland plus THE most unlikeable TD since Mary Hanafin as deputy leader spells disaster for a recovery of the party.

  3. Clampers Outside!

    Does this mean Alan Kelly is old guard and so will be gone next election?

    That’s nice, I’ll leave the bag in a little longer so….
    No, no, no… the tea is already wet…. that one’s for Alan, I’ll leave it in a little longer. I know, I know, water boarding is illegal, so this was the best I could come up with for now, shame though… I think he likes it, and I didn’t even shave them.

  4. rotide

    “The Fine Gael failure has been just as marked.”

    Has it? I’d argue not compared to FF last election.

    FG inherited not only austerity but the inevitable backlash. They did ok considering how shortsighted people are.

    1. ahjayzis

      If you consider macro-economics only and disregard social and social justice altogether. We’re not solely an economy. And even then that success was based on following Troika orders and boosted by oil prices, currency fluctuations, quantitative easing and the comparative growth of the UK and US economies.

      Then you look at justice, health, housing, water, pretty much everything they did that wasn’t under foreign administration – everything in that sphere they touched turned to sh1t.

      This was not a competent government, RoRo. And it wasn’t the departure we were promised from the strokery / patronage that failed us so abysmally.

          1. Clampers Outside!

            Because it’s what FG have always done. FF have never in my lifetime had to go in to govt and tighten reigns like FG have.

            You can disagree if you want, this is just opinion :)

          2. rory

            I honestly don’t know. What does ‘tighten the reins’ mean, and how have FG done it in the past?

          3. classter

            Its a fair point, Clampers.

            FF made again-and-again made absolute sh!te of our economy with Dev’s economic War, Jack Lynch’s giveaways, Haughey’s muddled populism, Bertie’s property-fuelled recklessness..

        1. ollie

          I don’t agree Clampers. FG didn’t actually do much in government other than increase taxation which is easy to do in years 1-3 of a 5 year stint.
          You will recall that they changed tax in years 4 and 5, managing to find an extra €2 billion over both years that wasn’t budgeted for.
          I think they made a few schoolboy errors:
          The flip flopping on water was terrible, implementing the highest charges in Europe followed by a complete u turn instead of a sufficient free allowance and an annual standing charge fixed for say 8 years. This would have won over the vast majority of people. Don’t forget that the income from water bills only covers the cost of collecting this income.

          No pain was taken by TDs. A big salary, generous unvouched expenses, additional payments for sitting on committees, free parking for life in the City Centre, jobs for wives, siblings, sons, daughters, cronies.
          No reform of legal or medical professions.
          No Dail reform
          Tax payer having to pay for Quinn Insurance and now Setanta Insurance

          Kenny calling property tax immoral
          Labour party pledging not to raise 3rd level fees.

          You see Clampers, Fine Gael are identical to Fianna Fail, both try and bribe the public for votes.

          1. pissedasanewt

            I don’t think that once they made the expensive ass of setting up Irish water that anything could have pleased the people as long as the Irish water monolith stood. But we do need a one body to improve the water system. No union in the land would have allowed them set up a sleek efficient organisation and get rid of all those responsible for water in local authorities. We made the same mistake with the HSE and I believe something similar was done with Irish Gas back in the 80’s. So something is fundamentally wrong that we can’t create anything that is public sector and efficient.

            Every reform of the legal and medical profession has been blocked by vested interests and I don’t think any government could achive this is 5 years.

            Quinn Insurance and Setanta was a fault of the regular under the FF government the final ruling to pay came through the courts. So any government is powerless to affect that.

            Dail reform.. a few seats dropped. A few less TD’s. Some quango’s aboloshed, but also a few setup.

            TD’s and Ministers have taken a pay cut as well as the tax increases we all got. Enda Kenny is earning in the ball park of €185. While Bertie ahern is entitled to a pension of €164 while he earns nixers on the side as he does talks about building the Celtic Tiger.

            What I find disturbing is the lack of desire of the left to form a Government. In fact, it looks like FF and SF want to stay out of goverment and give out in the hope that FG form some type of rag tag bunch which collapses in 6-18 months and another election will see FG drop again as Enda Kenny wanders around firing shots while his guns are still in the holster. FF would win 60ish and then maybe there might be a new labour with 10-12 plus a few independents and they cycle begins again. SF under Gerry would pitch in at 25-30 and FG would drop to 35 until they get a new leader.

          2. classter

            It is a fair point, Ollie.

            FG did very little in the direction of reform, other than cost-cutting.

            Shatter showed promise but was over-ambitious & tripped himself up with Wallace.

            That (and arguably IW) aside no other minister showed any enthusiasm for reform in their respective areas. The idea that Frances Fitz could be in line for the leadership of FG is profoundly depressing.

          3. classter

            There was (and remains) a massive job to sit down & look closely at the civil service – how it works, what its aims are, how it could be updated & improved. The aftermath of devastating recession (in the run up to which the civil service had been found badly wanting) was the ideal time to do so,

            FG generally and each minister individually passed up this opportunity.

          4. Kieran NYC

            classter – I don’t think FG (or they figured the Irish people) had the stomach to face the inevitable winters of discontent which would have lasted months if they tried to do a short, sharp shock to the civil service/system.

        2. :-Joe

          You are falling victim to the grand old mind trick,

          ….Good Party / Bad Party.

          If you’re a decent sort who believes in social justice, fairness, equality etc. to any sensible degree your more likely to prefer FG. The good cop.

          If you’re a decent sort who accepts the inequality of the class system, the illusion that everyone gets a fair shake and you just have to earn it along with being mildly racist, bigoted, xenophobic etc. etc. basically.. f.k the poor.. I’m getting a slice…. I think your more likely to prefer FF. The Bad Cop.

          It’s a clever little ruse and will happily continue until people start calling them out more and more for what they are, two halves of the same party. Hopefully that leads to them being forced to join together permanently as one entity and end the misdirection. The Irish Tory party in it’s true form.

          Now that would be progress.


      1. rotide

        and what money exactly has there been to fix all that?

        No government would have been able to do a huge amount about it. Check greece if you don’t believe me where the darlings of the left came in, got a sharp lesson in economics from the EU and haven’t made things any better at all on the home front. It could be argued that they did a lot worse judging by the homelessness and constant strikes there. The public there think a lot of worse of them than (reasonable, ie not Dav and the ilk) do of FG.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Being forced to take a bailout you don’t want is not getting a lesson in economics. Jesus.

          1. ollie

            Magic money tree:
            October 2014 to? Purchasing of bonds by ECB, so far over €1,000,000,000,000 spent.
            March 2015 to? €1,000,000,000,000 printed so far with no assets to support it.

            There’s your magic money tree but guess what? None of this has worked.

        2. ollie

          Greece left didn’t get a “sharp lesson” they got bullied by Europe including our own Bilderberger Michael Noonan.
          It’s a pity they didn’t hold firm, it would have left Europe choosing between giving in to them or the break up of the EU.
          In any event, the Eurozone is now back in deflation despite printing money for the last 2 years. The next economic crash is imminent and there’s no ammo left to fight it. The break up of the Eurozone is going to happen unless there’s massive national and personal debt relief.

          1. classter

            In fact, the EU might well have been better off encouraging Greece to leave.

            The sad fact is that the country is not a modern, developed state & has little intention of becoming one.

          2. jambon

            Exactly, Noonan failed spectacularly and tragically in all his cowardly dealings with his betters.

      2. ollie

        Here’s some of what Fine Gael and Labour promised but didn’t implement to protect their cronies:
        Bank employment levels and costs will be squeezed. AIB will be offered for sale to a foreign bank while the Government’s stake in Bank of Ireland will be sold to Irish citizens.
        Reform the pension system to progressively achieve universal coverage
        Ireland will be a centre of excellence in the management of carbon
        Fine Gael will ensure that rogue bankers and all those that misappropriate or embezzle
        funds are properly pursued for their crimes and that the full rigours of the law will apply to them
        The details of all non-performing loans acquired by NAMA will be available for scrutiny on a Public Register, including the names of the creditors, the price paid by the taxpayer for the loans and the actions taken by NAMA to recover the loans.Persons that have defaulted on loans acquired by NAMA will be banned from ever purchasing any asset from NAMA

    2. Clampers Outside!

      It’s the usual story… FF fupp the place up with giveaway budget after giveaway budget. FG come in and tighten the reigns and increase taxes to get the place going again in just one term.

      Then they get a backlash, for getting the place back on it’s feet, and are kicked out for raising taxes… then FF get in again and give it away again for two terms. FG have never had a second term to do what FF do every term…. the giveaway budgets.


      Thankfully, I believe, that tide is changing…. slowly. But we’ll have another few repeats of the above before we do, unfortunately.

      1. LW

        You wouldn’t consider the last budget a giveaway budget? And it was FG promising to cut tax this time around

        1. Clampers Outside!

          ‘Cutting tax’ and ‘giveaway budgets’ are not the same thing.

          Through the boom, under FF, I and many others scratched our heads wondering… ‘where the hell is the country going to get money to run the place with every budget slashing tax?’

          A small reduction in a USC charge is not a giveaway.
          Perspective please.

        2. meadowlark

          That was an obvious bid for re-election, lazy and transparent. Clampers is right. In something of a cyclical pattern, the people vote in FF for a term or two, and then public favour swings away and FG get in for a term, before FF get voted back in again.As far as I know, FG have never managed re-election as a majority government (if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me). The electorate have a history of swinging back and forth between the two. The illusion of choice, I think they call it.

    3. dav

      have u been updating ur blushirt cv yet?? Now who to choose, do ye lick up to leo, or fall in behind simon??

      1. ahjayzis

        You are incredibly tiresome.

        An impressive bit of code-writing though. What’s the name of your program?

        1. dav

          sorry, i should be more sympathetic to the blushirts after they succeeded in doing what they ALWAYS DO – “F**K IT UP!”

          1. ahjayzis

            No, pet.

            I’m suggesting you might be more interesting if you didn’t post the same boring, predictable schoolyard jibe blueshirt thing four or five times a day.

            Make an actual point or argument once in while, maybe.

      2. rotide

        No but let me assure you that when I do update my CV, my blueshirt uberfuerhers will ensure that I use whole words and not textspeak.

  5. ollie

    Dan, I’ve an unrelated question for you, now that we have newly elected TDS but at the same time unelected Ministers are still in government (James Reilly), who does and doesn’t get paid?

    1. Dan Boyle

      As far as I know they are still paid. The Ministerial salary incorporates a TDs salary but there isn’t any separate component.

  6. Medium Sized C

    It’s a tough pick between Dan and Amo for my favourite bitter political figure.
    But Dan will now always be my favourite public bet-welcher.

    1. Dan Boyle

      You would be wrong then. I’m the furthest from bitter there can be. I do like to contribute to the context in a more honest way than I see being done.

      1. Medium Sized C

        To be honest, I’d prefer if you were bitter.
        Bitterness isn’t a bad thing in the right place.
        I’m bitter.

        You aren’t my favourite anymore.

  7. Anne

    I can’t follow some of this. Maybe it’s just me..

    “There was something in the sheer nastiness of his approach that goaded me into accepting a challenge I shouldn’t have. I subsequently never honoured the bet,”

    What was the bet that you never honoured Dan?

    “I have, however, welched on one bet. Made in the dying embers of what is now the government before last, it was the Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin.”

    Like what’s that mean – “it was the Labour Party’s Brendan Howling” ? What was? I can’t get the meaning from some of this writing, sorry. I think I know what it means, but I can’t be sure.. “it” meaning the bet? The bet was the Labour Party’s Brendan Howlin? That still doesn’t make much sense. I get frustrated reading this, sorry.

    Anyway, surprise surprise Brendan Howlin is a pr*ck. I got that much.
    Lie down with dogs as the saying goes..

    1. Dan Boyle

      My apologies. You haven’t been prepositioned properly. The word ‘with’ is missing.

      1. Anne

        Oh right, don’t mind me.. sorry.

        Can I ask, what was the bet? The loser picks up the Dail tab for the evening or something? :)

        That shortsighted goon doesn’t deserve an ounce of sympathy either.. IMO.

        Karma is a bit of a b*tch sometimes.. :)

  8. Eamon Tuffy

    I am disappointed in Dan’s short piece. I think it was only Monday that I said/posted that I was glad that 2 Green TDs had been elected. In 2011 the outgoing Green TD in Dublin MW , who lives only 150 m down the street from me lost his seat on the same day my daughter held her’s as a Labour TD. I was sorry he lost and told him so. I’m 43 years in the LP; I have never felt that being a Labour member confers any sort of merit on me, and I don’t think anybody ever saw me as arrogant Laboour. As it happens I voted against Coalition in 2011, not so much because I anticipated what has happened, but because I did not agree with the Health policy in the Programme for Government, and because the Programme did not tie down enough Labour policies. But I stayed wth the Party, and will. Labour did a lot in Government- restored a Min Wage cut by Dan’s Party, legislated for X, got Marriage Equality through the Constitutional convention and to a Referendum, buit more schools and permanent extensions than any previous Government, etc., etc.. Not bad considering the mess left to the Coalition, mainly by successive FF/PD governments, but the Green Party did little to stop the rot, and supported the Bank Bailout- the biggest single contribution to the country’s economic disaster. Even if Anglo alone was let go , the people would have been saved 34 Billion.

    1. :-Joe

      Both the Labour party and the Greens essentially suffered the same fate…. anything positive done or policies proposed but not enacted will always be ignored by the establishment media as they magnify the mistakes and continue the cycle of scape-goat’s falling by the way-side as the bhoys continue the private carousel of power and control.

      You and the Labour Party are just as naive as the Greens were not to see this. One main difference was Labour had more experience and support in numbers while the Greens were practically helpless. It is what always happens when you dance with the bhoys, whether it’s FF or FG, it makes no difference and thanks to the seemingly sado-masochistic goldfish memory of the electorate and the general lack of basic critical analysis by the majority of the media and intellectuals, including the intentional corruption, it’s been like this for a long time.

      The bhoys FF/FG in opposition to a progressive coalition by the next election cycle.

      Living the dream….


  9. Dan Boyle

    I was speaking about the Labour leadership Eamon. I found them to be insufferably arrogant in 2011, continuing to surround themselves in hubris when in government. It’s a debate Labour is like to have with itself.

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