All Right Now



From top: Lucinda Creighton at the launch of Renua; Dan Boyle

The increase in support for the populist left in Ireland has been achieved by seeking to promote policies that are recognised in other countries as being right wing.

Dan Boyle writes:

I was asked recently why I thought a populist right wing party hasn’t taken hold in Ireland? Where is our Donald Trump or UKIP or even our Front National?

These questions came on foot of a declaration by Renua Ireland that it had electorally failed because it was seen to be a right wing party.

For much of our history Irish politics has been an ideology free zone. Our main parties have been catch all parties bringing conservative and social democratic elements into their tents. Our ‘centre’ has been more to the right than other European countries.

We now have a centre that’s a bit more left, but not hugely so.

We have developed a populist left. In this we can include Sinn Féin and the PABAPA twins. Political volatility has allowed both groupings to affect empathy with the disadvantaged in our society, without having to seek the responsibility of having to do anything about such inequality.

The increase in support for the populist left in Ireland has also been achieved by such parties articulating, and seeking to promote, policies that are recognised in other countries as being right wing.

In what other country would opposition to capital taxation be seen as left wing? What erstwhile socialist elsewhere would curry favour by suggesting inheritance tax wasn’t socially progressive?

Most wealth is held in capital. Taxing such capital for any progressive has to be a mainstay of any system seeking to bring about greater equality and fairness.

I think the biggest diluting factor in preventing a populist right wing party in Ireland has been the ability of independents to get elected, and currently to do so in large numbers. In terms of international politics this is a uniquely Irish phenomenon.

Independents can say and be anything they want to be. Their’s is the greatest freedom to pander any number of public prejudices.

The outrageous statements that are the stock in trade of our more successful independent politicians, can be a safety valve in venting uncomfortable thoughts existing in society, thoughts that no responsible political party could ever articulate.

Independents have organisations that rarely develop beyond their local strongholds. This has made the prospect of national organisation holding extremely right wing views less likely.

Another factor has been our willingness to subsume elements of right wing government into our own. The Irish Constitution reads in part as a love letter to Portuguese corporatism of the 1930s.

Whenever the idea of an extreme right wing party has been toyed with here it has usually met with derision.

In the 1930s The Blueshirts, as the Army Comrades Association, never even got to contest elections being blended into the new Fine Gael party. Its leader Eoin O’Duffy was shuffled off in a matter of months.

In the 1940s we had Ailtirí na hAiséirghe (Architects of the Revolution). While the party sold thousands of copies of its pamphlets it never came close to winning a Dáil seat. It did win some local council seats with Cork being a particular stronghold, sadly.

These days some followers can be found in the darker recesses of the Internet. The Celtic Cross masquerades as an Irish swastika.

Their thoughts are vile yet somehow we know that by laughing at them they’re never likely to take hold here.

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


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49 thoughts on “All Right Now

  1. Mark Kelly

    I like the way Dan Boyle gets a dig in a PBP and AAA as they would not sell out on their values unlike him and his Green buddies who propped up the disastrous FF government just before the crash. Just because you won’t sell out to go into power does not mean that you will refuse to go into power under any circumstances. Why can’t Labour and the Greens understand this. FF love saying this to as now they are propping up FG and the leaders of the opposition apparently.

    1. Rob_G

      They already sold out on their values in order to achieve popularity – what other explanation is there for a Troskyite party that opposes property & inheritance taxes?


      1. ahjayzis

        Property taxes that replaces direct government funding that in turn goes to pay our debts to odious debt while punishing Dubliners to fund people paying a pittance outside Dublin. Totes progressive.

        Inheritance taxes I can’t argue with – but it’s FG and FF spearheading the reduction isn’t it? I’ve not actually heard the shinners and lefties support them on it?

        1. Owen C

          “Property taxes that replaces direct government funding”

          what are property taxes replacing?

        2. Rob_G

          “…that in turn goes to pay our debts to odious debt”

          – servicing the bailout makes up a small proportion of govt borrowing; the majority of govt spending over the last number of years was to finance current expenditure.

          RBB supports the inheritance tax reduction as, even though it is diametrically-opposed to the things that he professes to believe in, he knows that it will win him votes within his constituency if he goes with it.

          1. ollie

            Rob, you are comparing government borrowing and spending as is they were the same thing, Why?
            Fact is that we pay 8 billion on interest each year for our bank debt and associated borrowing.

            I suggest you read the above post by ahjayzis slowly and regularly.

          2. Rob_G

            Because the vast majority of govt borrowing post-2008 was used to on current expenditure – public sector salaries, social protection, etc – rather than servicing the bailout

            Ahjaysis seemed to be suggesting that new taxes were being created in order to pay for our ‘odious debt’; in fact, new taxes were mainly introduced to pay for current expenditure. Suggest that you should maybe read posts more slowly, chum.

        3. DubLoony

          FG supporting inheritiance tax reduction, with support from AAA/PBP for some bizarre reasons.

          Property taxes pay for local serives like street lighting, cleaning, libraries, and could also contribute to social hosing if SF controlled Dublin City Council stopped reducing it.
          And given that Dublin has a large population, it also contributes to local authories in other areas.

          Govt debt is 1.3% of GDP, so your point doesn’t stand up.

          1. ahjayzis

            A large population… and the fact that they actually pay more, you forgot that part. It’s a tax on city-dwellers which oddly enough then gets transferred to people who pay a pittance.

          2. Rob_G


            Every country has wealth transfers from wealthier parts of the country to less well-off parts of the country; this has been happening in Ireland for many, many years before the property tax was introduced.

          3. ahjayzis

            No problem with wealth transfers. I have a problem with charging people more in the first place as a tax on living in Dublin and *then* transferring the spoils to people in bigger houses on bigger plots of land, built in the middle of nowhere with the pursuant extra costs to service.
            It’s just further divorcing what we pay from what we earn.

          4. ahjayzis

            Also, the property tax has zero provision for regulating supply of land for development, no disincentives to land banking and speculation, no disincentives for misuse, it’s purely a tax on Joe Soap, as per.

          5. DubLoony

            So much for solidarity with our fellow citizens.
            You omit to mention the poorer infastructure in rural areas from transport, broadband etc.

            The issue of land zoning is about planning. In rural areas is appalingly bad but a whole other conversation.

          6. ollie

            dubloony, almost all property tax collected to date has gone to irish water. Why do you lie?

          7. ahjayzis

            There’s no Luas in Ballymahon, that’s the real outrage. There’s a trade-off here, you can live far cheaper in the countryside, in a bigger house, in a healthier environment, but you need to understand service provision will not be what it is in densely populated cities. To further charge city-dwellers to pretend away this fact and pretend there’s no efficiency penalty for servicing one-off houses miles apart is deeply unfair.

            There’s half a cabinet devoted to rural affairs and not one minister for Dublin, there’s no Dublin Mayor, there’s no one actually running Dublin. So don’t moan on at me about the poor rurals when costs are higher, rents are higher, houses are more expensive, crime is higher, inequality is worse, and poverty rates and drug problems abound more and we’re already funding the rest of the country in the city.

            On land, it’s really not about planning. There is zero financial penalty for sitting on swathes of land suitable for housing, that’s a taxation issue. And we need to implement the 40 odd year old Kenny report and end speculation for good.

          8. Rob_G

            “There is zero financial penalty for sitting on swathes of land suitable for housing, that’s a taxation issue.”

            – a property tax, by definition, constitutes a financial penalty on leaving land idle (though I accept that there should be higher tax specifically for idle property – I think there is being one introduced at the minute)

          9. ahjayzis

            Then this isn’t a property tax, Rob. It’s a tax on residential homes, not land.

            From revenue; “An annual self-assessed Local Property Tax (LPT) charged on the market value of all residential properties in the State came into effect in 2013 and is being administered by Revenue.”

          10. ollie

            Rob, taxation income dropped through the floor as a consequence of the bank bailout, so you can’t treat both in isolation

  2. R

    Jaysus, if only we had the wiser than poo Greens to lord it over us with their enlightened approaches to absolutely everything. Us muggins of a peoples need to be lead by the nose by wiser beings.

    What twaddle. College debate level.

    1. Sido

      Those nasty independents, that the foolish plebs like to vote for, make it impossible for sensible political parties like the Greens and ermm…. the greenz to drag us into a brighter future.

      Did Renua really say that? – I’ve been away. I thought they failed because they were a silly party, started by the bossy head girl at the covenant and probably something to do with Eddie Hobbs – political analysis has never been my thing.

  3. Donker

    Runua failed because it was seen as a Catholic party.
    I was interested in an economically conservative party but the whole “keep putting the young wans on the boat to Liverpool” thing turned me right off.

    1. Rob_G

      I agree – the PDs did very well as a ‘Right (lite)’ alternative; they were in govt nearly every year of their existence.

      I think it was Ceighton’s fixation on abortion that put a lot of people off.

        1. Sido

          Well yeah, but mainly on abortion.
          To be fair the other policies were just other stuff they dreamed up to make them sound like they had a political position on other things so I never paid any attention to the other stuff.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        That flat tax idea was astonishingly stupid. Either stupid for thinking it would be good for everyone or stupid for knowing it was bad for all Hut the wealthiest but thinking they could convince everyone it was good. Either way, really really dumb.

  4. Water Boy

    The author is absolutely right, Sanders would be considered a right wing nut in Ireland and the electoral success of politicians have largely been as much about personality as ideology, indeed one could argue that this has actually continued as politicians trying to aim to angry people have used unrealistic promises to get elected, want free water vote AAA, want an inheritance cut vote PBP, want no duty on motor fuels vote SF.

  5. Rainy Day

    Bang on…. in what other country could you oppose a property tax and inheritance tax and be considered left wing?? …

    1. Willie Banjo

      I didn’t know that AAA/PBP and SF opposed inheritance tax. I know FF and FG would like to lower it but that the left wing parties opposed it? Is there some reference somewhere to prove this? Genuinely curious.

  6. Eoin

    Yeah. Where’s our far right? We couldn’t even manage to send any decent hooligans to the Euros. ;)

  7. bisted

    …I have no doubt that PABAPA stands for something very clever but perjorative on the planet Dan. One thing we seem to share is a general sense of despair when it comes to the body politic but where we differ is that, like it or not, all our politicians have been democratically elected and have a mandate that must be respected. Dan consistently shows contempt for the democratic process and open disdain for anyone with views different to his.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Wow. Not even close to who I am and what I believe in. I do appreciate the kneejerk is a vital part of your exercise regime though…

        1. Rob_G

          A lot of people criticise politicians that they don’t agree with; does this mean that they are showing “contempt for the democratic process” as well?

  8. ollie

    Things Dan believes in:
    1. Inequality in taxation based on where you live
    2. Inequality amongst European students.
    3. Tax breaks for pollution causing transport
    4. Nimbyism when it comes to Nuclear energy

    1. Dan Boyle

      All things I don’t believe in. And don’t send any tired lists, interpreted to represent whatever petty prejudices you hold.

      1. ollie

        Let me elaborate:
        1. Inequality in taxation based on where you live. Welsh GP manifesto want’s an exemption to bedroom tax for Wales.
        2. Inequality amongst European students. Welsh GP manifesto wan’t no 3rd level fees in Wales for Welsh people.
        3. Tax breaks for pollution causing transport. Reduced car tax for diesel vehicles?
        4. Nimbyism when it comes to Nuclear energy. No nuclear energy….in Wales.

        Play the ball Dan, not the man.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Sigh –
          1. As in Scotland this levy is still paid but not by the social welfare recipient;
          2. This is about maximising education spending in the country;
          3. Emission based motor tax doesn’t differentiate fossil fuel type;
          4. I wouldn’t want a nuclear energy plant in anyone’s back garden. The argument is about the technology not the location.

          If you must persist with this obsession bear in mind I didn’t write the Welsh manifesto I was working with them.

          1. ollie

            No Dan you promoted the manifesto, subtle difference.

            All of the points I made are true despite your denials and bending of the truth.
            The anti nuclear item isn’t anti nuclear, it is clearly anti nuclear in Wales.

          2. Dan Boyle

            Because the remit of the WelshAssembly is Wales. The manifesto remits doesn’t extend to Kazakhstan. You are a silly man. So so petty.

  9. Gearóid

    “We have developed a populist left.”

    See for example Dan’s colleague, John Gormley, delivering his “Bertieland” speech shortly before Dan and his colleagues entered into a coalition with Bertia Ahern and Fianna Fáil.

  10. ollie

    Everything I said in my post is true.
    ” Emission based motor tax doesn’t differentiate fossil fuel type;” Isn’t the point I was making. Diesel engines produce more pollutants than petrol yet GP in government gave tax breaks to owners.
    You must feel really stupid knowing that VW conned you into falsely reducing tax on their diesel cars!
    If you don’t you should.

    1. Dan Boyle

      What Eamon Ryan said in the Dáil seems appropriate here –
      A world “which is self-seeking, which is easily angered and which keeps a record of wrongs”.
      Stop being so angry and obsessed.

  11. Michael Neville

    It is like comparing apples and oranges most home owners are actually paying a large mortgage and are in the PAYE sector, so taxing their home is yet another tax on their income. On the continent most people rent and move around during their working lives. While honest criticism can be levied on the left such as they do not seem to have a regional or rural development policy, there opposition to property charges is consistent with supporting working people. The Greens in Government broke there pre election promises they were very radical in opposition even protesting the Corrib Gas Field. In Government the Green were very conservative supporting many new taxes on working people and the bank bailout. What is not apparent in the article is how you can effectively tax people who are sitting on their assets, the only suggestion was inherence tax and certainly this should be examined. But surely increasing Capital Gains Tax should be looked at, many executives receive share options and buying and selling investment property is making huge profits for already rich individuals and of course the so called vulture funds. BUT TAXING THE FAMILY HOME AND PUTTING WORKING PEOPLE UNDER ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL STRAIN IS NOT A PROGRESSIVE TAX MEASURE.

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