When Right Is Wrong


From top: Grenfell Tower in West London; Dan Boyle

A political argument has already been lost, when a protagonist states that an issue shouldn’t be ‘politicised’. To politicise an issue is to cause embarrassment, even to evoke shame.

There are times, however, when shame, guilt, and responsibility, not only need to be evoked, but also constantly need to be put before those whose actions (often lack of action) have created crisis and havoc.

Those who have died so needlessly at Grenfall Tower in West London, those who will endure such horrible injuries, and those who have lost family and other loved ones, have to be seen as more than victims. Collectively they are human sacrifice on the altar of political expediency.

The Conservative Party controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council sees public services as a distraction, from its real business of business itself. A more ugly exponent of the mantra of New Public Management, would be difficult to find.

Spend less. Tax less. Where possible commodify. When necessary avoid activity that promotes a common good. Insist, whenever possible, on the necessity of individual responsibility. Create new structures, and with such structures put in place new bodies, to which responsibility without power can be ascribed.

This council treats its residents like shareholders. Householders are supplied with a statement of account, which in the most recent year saw the council making a ‘profit’, rewarding each householder with £100 cash back.

The implication of this reward is that at all publicly provided needs were met. Of course they haven’t been. The ability of residents being bribed with their own money has been bought at the expense, of the use of cheap materials, and with many deep cuts to basics services.

These are cuts made with callous indifference, knowing that those most affected – the poor, the unemployed, ethnic minorities – provide little shareholder capital for a Tory council in the richest borough in Britain.

Irish local authorities have tended to ape policy changes in the UK. While Irish councils are structured differently, and carry significantly less powers, than their UK counterparts, worrying signs of these attitudes have begun to be seen.

If any kind of hope can be gained from such an awful event, it should be to act as a wake up call to stop travelling down this road, or to think it a route ever worth taking.We can only pray that those who have argued that a Michael O’Leary business model, best provides for Irish social services, will now shut the feck up.

The metrics for good performance in Irish local government should be in the meeting of needs as they exist. It should be in acquiring, and never apologising for acquiring, the resources necessary to meet such needs.

Those with least require most. Meeting such needs should be the prime purpose of local government. To demean such needs, while virtually criminalising those who require services, will only bring us events like the London conflagration.

Never again with never again.

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

17 thoughts on “When Right Is Wrong

  1. nellyb

    Do you also have implementation plan? Do you have trustworthy team to do it? No and no? Or Yes and No? Or Yes and Yes? The latter would be ideal.

  2. Dan Boyle

    I know enough people who can and should. I remain convinced that change is possible. I’ve never believed that change is linear or easy.

    1. nellyb

      :-) Corporate management used to spout about change is never linear or easy 20 years ago. Until it got so repetitive and dull, it stopped scoring them brownie points. $$$ rather. Then recession wiped out the mouthy ones all together. You need to either rotate your vocabulary or start getting a plan together. Do you have a draft? Does anyone have a draft? Has anyone even started? Or yous all flocking to broadsheet to talk about it instead?
      ‘You’ is a political class, so don’t feel isolated and Jesus-like for taking on the sins of others.

  3. Dan Boyle

    I don’t accept that. That’s projecting onto me. Why would there be a greater onus on me than on you?

  4. Gay Tea Shop

    Good thoughts Dan. We need an inclusive debate on housing and property in Ireland that looks at all the unpleasantness including AirBnb, the tech sector gentrification aspect, and expats from the EU on big salaries pricing out locals.

  5. ollie

    Dan, there are hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland living in apartments that have serious fire safety issues.
    Why focus on the UK on a piece for an Irish website when worse problems persist here?

  6. Sheik Yahbouti

    Just looking at the news – Teresa’s tits are a thing of beauty – you may roast as many peasants as you wish, my Dear

  7. Shayna

    I’m not entirely convinced by Dan’s argument. Change in local government policy? Clearly, that’s not going to happen. In the words of The Swedish chef from, “The Muppets Take Manhatten”, ‘Peoples is peoples’.

  8. Andy

    Has the inquiry been completed and the causes of the fire & how it spread so quickly been announced. I missed that…………….

    1. anne

      cheap combustible cladding was used..that’s been established.

      you wait for your inquiry though.

    1. Dan Boyle

      That’s the phone not me. I type it right it changes my mind. Same with who which should be whose.

      1. Shayna

        Dan, it bugs the B’Jesus out of me. I’m an Autocue operator and a proof reader, words are my daily.

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