Making Up The Numbers


From top: A box fresh copy of Making Up The Numbers by Dan Boyle ; Dan Boyle

Having made myself the unofficial historian for the Green Party in Ireland, I produced two books – ‘A Journey To Change’ an account of the party’s first twenty five years in existence; and ‘Without Power or Glory’ a personalised account of party’s period in government (2007/11).

When I undertook a Masters degree in Government (2013/14), I thought it might be interesting that my thesis should be to compare and contrast the experiences of the six smaller parties, that have been part of governments in Ireland. In the back of my mind I thought it might form the basis of a future book.

The thesis being twenty thousand words in length was far too short to be made into a book. I also began to think that focus of such a book, concentrating on only the six parties concerned, may have been too narrowly focussed. There was a wider story to be told about smaller parties and independents in Irish politics, and I wanted to tell it.

A number of books have been written on some of the smaller, now largely disappeared, parties. Books have also written been about individual independents and about the concept of independents. I wanted to write a comprehensive account of others in Irish politics. It may not be fully comprehensive but I am hoping that the gaps that are identified may become easier to fill in.

I believe it is a story worth telling. On average around 15% of the vote has been won by others. Over five hundred and fifty Dáil seats have been won by others, more than the number won by the Labour Party. These seats have often been vital in determining whether governments could be formed, or if a sitting government could continue in existence.

Those with large p​ersonalities and their willingness to be different are traits that are found more often among smaller parties and independents. There are many interesting personal stories among those others who have been elected in Ireland, some of those stories quite tragic. There can be no denying that others have brought large amounts of colour into a political system that has otherwise been quite moribund.

Others have been the source of much of the change that has occurred in Irish politics, even when the achievement of change has been a factor in hastening the end of many smaller parties.

Probably the biggest achievement of others in Irish politics has been to slowly move our politics from a politics of tribes to a politics of more coherent political beliefs, born from philosophies that bend less to the breeze of perceived public opinion. That change may not yet be complete, although we have moved considerably in that direction.

The vote for others may oscillate in future elections. It is likely though that it will remain a significant vote, and thus will continue to be necessary when new governments are being formed.

Our borrowed Westminster system of government now operates with a European style political diversity that helps underline the uniqueness of Irish politics. So much for the better.

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

Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.

We have three copies of Making Up The Numbers to give away

To enter the give away, simply answer this question:

How many political parties with the word ‘Clann’ have had Oireachtas representation?

Lines MUST close at 1pm

Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics

Sponsored Link

47 thoughts on “Making Up The Numbers

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Dunno. Gimme a copy anyway, my Dad would love it for Christmas.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Ban the Poo. Ooh-er!

    Well done Dan, good luck with it

    I think there are two such parties

    Clann na Poblachta and
    Clann na Talún

  3. Aaaa

    Also think it’s 2. Thought Clann na Gael might have been a banner that an independent may have run under, but conferred with the father and he thinks not!

    Echoing the commenters above, think the 2 were Clann na Talmhan and Clann na Poblachta, and my Dad would also love a copy for Christmas!!

  4. Brother Barnabas

    Can’t remember the name (so that’s probably not much use), but there was another Clann Something. It was a republican party and it came out of Cumann na nGaedhael. And it changed later to The People’s Party. And then I think it joined FF.

  5. Andrew

    Clann na nGael Clann na Talmhan; Clann na Poblachta.
    I wish I had the time to do a Masters in Government. I have to earn a crust though. I do have to constantly study but it’s all relates to the job; that which pays me.

  6. Nigel

    Hmm. Clann na nGael, Clann MaCleod, Clann Harkonnen, Clann Ad, Clann Took, I Love It When A Clann Comes Together (aka The A-Clann), A Clann For All Seasons, Boyz 2 Clanns, and of course Jolene Jolene Jolene Jolene I’m Begging Of You Please Don’t Take My Clann.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Heh. Fair comment/facial expression.

            Thanks, Nige! I’ll take any compliment, even when bullied out of someone.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        I’m the same. I’m wojus at ’em. But I love them. Clann erm… Nope. Nothing.

  7. Penfold

    Clann na Talmhan
    Clann na Poblachta
    (thought there was 3, but checked and Clann Éireann only had a short stint and no representation)

    1. Dan Boyle

      For a short time they did. Never had anyone directly elected. For your effort you deserve a copy. One left.

  8. Dan Boyle

    Only one right answer. Congrats Brother Barnabas. Another question for the other two copies. How many currently registered political parties are not represented in DáilÉireann? Answers before noon.

    1. Fact Checker

      I will hazard four: Éirigí, RENUA, the Workers’ Party and the Communist Party of Ireland.

      But don’t worry, I bought your album and I’ll buy the book too;-)

    2. Aaaa

      Stab in the dark (well semi darkness, half illuminated by wikipedia) – 9?

      Direct Democracy
      Worker’s Party
      Socialist Worker’s Party
      Kerry Independent Alliance
      Communist Party
      Irish Democratic Party
      Fís Nua
      United People (although apparently they along with Fís Nua haven’t filed accounts which is in breach of the Electoral Act?!)

      As far as I can gather they are the only ones registered for National Elections that don’t have a seat, other parties such as Éirigí are only registered for local elections so I’ve omitted them. I was interested to find there was a distinction between being registered to run candidates in the two?!

    3. catsiglierie

      Attempt to win #2:

      Renua Ireland, Worker’s Party, Kerry Independent Alliance, Republican Sinn Fein, Communist Party of Ireland, Eirigi, Fis Nua, Direct Democracy Ireland, Irish Democratic Party, United People, and Identity Ireland.

    4. Brother Barnabas

      Thanks very much, Dan. And well done – it looks great.

      Have to be honest, though, I find Irish politics a bit boring (sorry!).

      I think catsiglierie would be a worthy and appreciative winner.

      (Hope this isn’t going to go down as Broadsheet’s equivalent of that old one who won the Toy Show tickets that year)

      1. catsiglierie

        Very generous of you Brother Barnabas, and I certainly wouldn’t make the Toy Show comparison (but then as the potential benefactor I wouldn’t, would I?).

        Still, I won’t hold Dan to anything – I won’t complain if he thinks another response is more deserving!

    1. Aaaa


      Feel slightly guilty for researching but it’s a fiendishly difficult question! Look forward to reading more into the smaller parties and their stories. Always admired their ability to get into government here (even if it often ends up with the smaller side in the coalitions paying a price at election times), especially compared to places such as the UK and the US with their 2 major parties.

  9. bisted

    …here Dan…do you know the way you are normally a stickler for language…and the answer to a ‘how many’ question is usually a number…well I think I was the first to say three…just sayin’

      1. bisted

        …damn…forgot I have to fill in the gaps that are implied in your posts…I thought my being the founder of the #DanforPresident group* on Broadsheet would have swung it for me…

        * I say group but it’s only me so far…

      2. Zuppy International

        The Competition was described as follows:

        “We have three copies of Making Up The Numbers to give away

        To enter the give away, simply answer this question:

        How many political parties with the word ‘Clann’ have had Oireachtas representation?

        Lines MUST close at 11am”

        There is no “name them” part. Dan’s just making it up as he goes along.


        1. Dan Boyle

          You’re right the question was edited. I did include name them. A number on its own wouldn’t make sense. Those who won got the spirit of the question.

          1. Zuppy International

            And when it everything goes tits up ALWAYS make sure to blame somebody else.

            NEVER take responsibility for your own mistakes.

            #ClannAnSoiscéilBhréagach indeed.

            * Bisted should get a book (although why Bisted might want that book I won’t care to speculate).

          2. bisted

            …an opportunity missed Bodger…you should have organised the competition like the old days…something like suggesting a new twitter name for @sendboyle to help him get over his hankering after the glory days when he nearly made the corridors of power…my entries would have been:

            @delboyle – to reflect his love of quotations from English comedic sitcoms
            @denboyle – to reflect his tendency to threaten to sue commenters that may not agree with him.

  10. Joxer

    jaysus lads yiz are all regularly moaning at Dan when he posts his usual screeds….now look at yiz when he has freebies to dispense… falling over yizzerselves….

    anyway was the answer 3 ?

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link