File Photo Fine Gael have a parliamentary party meeting tonight to discuss Enda Kennys future as leader. End. 19/07/2016. Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny at the launch of the Government's new Housing Action Plan which will help deal with the housing and homeless crisis at the Government Press Centre. Photo RollingNews


From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Dan Boyle

While it is possible to rise without a trace in politics, it is rarely a facility that exists for those departing public office.

Dan Boyle writes:

The time before the ending of any political career, is in marked contrast to the etiquette attached to what happens when an end does occur.

That end tends to be accompanied by a litany of eulogies, based on a theme that the politician in question has served his country with distinction, has done so selflessly and has gone about his (usually his) tasks without seeking fear or favour.

What is immediately forgotten, what then must remain unsaid until considered by future historians, are the recriminations and the derision placed upon the head of the unwanted politician in the days, weeks and months prior to their denouement.

This occurs regardless the of competencies, or the accomplishments, of the said individual. While it is possible to rise without a trace in politics, it is rarely a facility that exists for those departing public office.

We surround ourselves with a myth that a functioning democratic society requires widespread popular support. The truth is that most democratic societies function by having enough support existing enough of the time.

Those who choose to be involved in political life, do so knowing that a majority of people will either be indifferent, or more likely be hostile towards them.

Keeping enough people happy enough of the time is the essence of politics. Eventually you run out of people and/or time.

The public cynicism that attaches to politicians can be at its most vicious as a career end draws near. Each politician is said to be clinging onto power. Often their motivation is thought to be financial.

On occasion that can often be the case. There are, however, at other times more human factors that are at play. Factors we tend to forget about, and certainly are rarely applied to the sub species that is that of politicians.

The idea of clinging onto power is a nonsense. Power is never absolute. It is always comprised by the need to consult, persuade and share responsibility for decisions taken. The World can and does go on without any given politician.

Some factors are down to political vanity. The loss of status can be significant. There will come a day when people will no longer seek your opinion. Where your name will no longer be as prevalent. Where the when and how of you meeting with people isn’t governed by protocol.

Of course much of this can be placed into a ‘Get Over Yourself’ category. The deeper the effects of this, the more rarefied a cossetted politician has been exposed to this condition. When individuals end up with no driver’s licence, having been driven around for thirty years; or others don’t know how to check into an airport; it shows up the individuals, and the system they have been a part of, quite badly.

The most obvious human factor we tend to lose sight of, in this situation, is that of uncertainty. What to do with your life afterwards? Again the assumption gets made that you get looked after, that passing status gets picked up on by those who think they may gain from second hand prestige. Another myth too widely believed.

The rabidly right wing Conservative, Enoch Powell (who ended his career as Unionist MP for North Down) is remembered for two things. One is his incindiary ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. The other is a quote of his that all political careers end in failure.

It’s the careers of failure that begin we should be more worried about.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursdyay. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


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27 thoughts on “Enda Days

    1. 15p

      say for example, if you’re surname is Gallagher, could you not go with the handle ‘R_Gallagher’? or ‘R_Gall’? .. just some suggestions.

      1. Rob_G

        Why don’t you call yourself whatever you want, and I will continue to call myself as I want

          1. Rob_G

            No. I think you should change your name by deed poll, so that when people meet you in real life, they don’t mistake you for the Rob_G from Broadsheet.

          2. jusayinlike

            The Rob G of the pervert facilitating fine gael, maybe that’s why he wants you to change your avatar..

  1. bisted

    …surprised to see you Dan…thought you would be up north i̶n̶t̶e̶r̶f̶e̶r̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ helping the greens in the leafy suburbs of South Belfast…

    ps…get over yourself!

      1. bisted

        …thanks Dan…and talking about rising without trace…what’s the name of yer one that got elected alongside whinging Eamo for the greens?

        1. Dan Boyle

          You know show she is a she. You know she was elected. I find it sad when the truly ignorant pretend to be even more ignorant.

  2. Devine

    A political career put simply is the obtaining of and the retention of power.

    Everything done or said in that pursuit is merely a by-product of individual political ambition.

  3. Charger Salmons

    Dan Who ? is certainly better qualified than most to be an expert on political failure.

  4. nellyb

    “The loss of status can be significant. There will come a day when people will no longer seek your opinion.” – Donald Trumpsky has a status – are people lining up for his opinion? Only if they’re seeking personal ruin.

  5. nellyb

    Ireland rapped in groundhog day, We’ve had a visitor from overseas office, from the Trudeau land. I asked whether Trudeau is as popular in the country as he is outside. The answer was careful, but positive ‘He hasn’t screwed me yet’, ‘people wanted change, people wanted someone young’ and along these lines.
    Our political gig is an crikey wardrobe stuffed with old coats and mothballs.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      I meant to respond directly, see below… missed :)

      …..anyone know if Louis LeFronde would do a piece on Canada’s M-103 motion… What are the people at home thinking? Is M-103 Good or bad?

  6. Clampers Outside!

    ‘He hasn’t screwed me yet’, ‘people wanted change, people wanted someone young’ and along these lines.

    “The answer was careful, but positive”

    ‘He hasn’t screwed me yet’ ….is now considered a positive? Does ‘I’m alright Jack’ count as a positive in this land of the Trudeau, because that’s what ‘He hasn’t screwed me yet’ also means.

    Want to know how fupped up Canada is going to be… motion M-103. A law against free speech that singles out Islam for special treatment even though Muslims experience less racism than the even smaller minority of Jews in Canada. Why single out any religion?

    Anyway, Canada’s Muslims are not too happy with it either….

    ( I know some on this site will point at the news source in this link and run. Reason for this appears to be, for some, because they don’t know how to discern content for themselves, as they need to be told what to read by the media )
    Anyway, most on this site will be able to hear the interviewees in this vox pop piece and discern for themselves…. Canada’s Motion M-103 and the objections to it…

    #FreeSpeech is the bed rock of everything. Yes, everything.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Can you limit yourself to derailing one thread a day with your tosh?

      It’s tedious.


  7. ollie

    “What to do with your life afterwards? ”
    1. Never have to work again thanks to the very generous pensions you have awarded yourself.
    2. Hide in cupboards
    3. Live in Wales.
    4. Tell the world that you did your best, it was your Government partner’s fault that you did nothing positive.
    5. Keep making excuses for the bad legislation you implemented while you were in power
    6. All of the above

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