Dan Boyle; Once Bitten Twice Scarred


Dan Boyle is to run in Cork City South Central at the local elections in May

I was 28 years old when I was elected in my first election. I was the second youngest person elected to the City Council, the youngest being the son of a then TD. There were a number of others elected who were in or around my age; Micheál Martin (two years older than me) had already served six years on the Council.

Most councillors were 15 to 20 years older than me, which led to a fair amount of condescension being directed towards me in my early years as a councillor. Being the first Green elected had slightly fractured the comfortable template of local politics. I neither spoke their language nor understood their thinking. I imagine the feeling was mutual.

I have been thinking of my original experiences as a councillor while listening to a radio piece on the number of young, first time councillors who are not seeking re-election, which played on the RTÉ This Week programme.

The combination of factors mentioned were understandable and logical. The economic reasons were most cited. Many first time councillors were surprised at the scale of the work involved, and how doing public work compromised their ability to engage in other, better paid work, that would help in securing housing and in raising a family.

Few of these now departing first time councillors seemed to gain any sense of real job satisfaction. When a large number of those you are meant to work with, and for, identify you only in negative terms, those negative reactions tend to get under your skin more.

Some departing first time councillors also found life within political party structures to be somewhat confining, with some political parties being more regimented than others.

I was sorry but not surprised that young political activists have experienced this. A vibrant democracy depends on a regular throughput of new people and ideas. Any attempt to bring about an actual reform of local government in Ireland would be worthless if these negative experiences were not adequately responded to.

I would hope that these prematurely retiring councillors may, sometime in the future, return to the public sphere, being then able to put their experience to a more positive use.

I suggest this to highlight a mirror image problem that also afflicts Irish politics, those who continue in public office but whose continuity has become far too lengthy.

We should begin to embrace the idea of term limits. Contribute to public life but leave space to experience life as it is, outside of the goldfish bowl that it is Irish politics.

Make a better, and more informed, contribution by returning to public life after leaving its often narrow, inwardness and insularity behind.

This was a choice that was made for me. After dealing with the personal disappointment, I’m kind of glad that choice was made. Being outside hasn’t made me any less committed, but it has allowed me the space to look from the outside at the system and its many flaws.

This year it will be seventeen years since I last was a member of a local authority. I was first elected half a lifetime ago. I spent a further ten years in frontline national politics.
The last eight years as Citizen Boyle has given me a far better perspective on life.

I have regrets and many frustrations. The changes I would make would be personal, would be social. There is little I would try to change politically, at least not in terms of my personal beliefs.

I’m putting myself forward again seeking to become part of a system of government I know isn’t working. I want to help this system to work to its potential, to work differently, to work better.

To those stepping aside now I say come back again soon. Together let’s fail some more. Let’s fail better.

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

Pic : Denis Minihane/UCC

56 thoughts on “Dan Boyle; Once Bitten Twice Scarred

  1. Frank.A

    Just so we know the following isn’t a hollow platitude-
    “I’m putting myself forward again seeking to become part of a system of government I know isn’t working. I want to help this system to work to its potential, to work differently, to work better.”
    Can Dan please give-
    5 examples of how the current ‘system of government isn’t working’.
    5 examples of how he’s going to ‘help this system work to it’s potential, differently, better’.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Good luck, Dan. Please don’t put “I’ll Fail Better” on your posters.

      1. millie st murderlark

        You can take the girl outta Cork but you can’t take the Cork outta the girl

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            That reminds me of one of my awesome jokes. Guy goes into a butchers’ shop. Asks the girl behind the counter if she keeps dripping. I’ll let you guys fill in the rest. It’s astonishingly funny.

      1. Dan

        Fact three – Not a fact. Car tax changes were fuel neutral and emission dependent

        Diesel particulates kill thousands Annually and Dan and his party promoted their use.

  2. Ben Redmond

    Good luck to any candidate who has social-environmental ideas; who sees deep flaws in the Irish concept of Local Government; and who sees local problems and possibilities in a regional and national context.

  3. axelf

    if only you were in power for a while, then you could’ve done something about local democracy……… oh wait a minute.

    1. Dan Boyle

      I stopped town councils being abolished. Pity the government that followed couldn’t

      1. Ben Redmond

        Local council practice and the scarcity of funding from central government have inculcated a parochial ‘turf’ attitude in most County Council members over the decades. Have you any suggestions for Councils to be given more opportunities to generate local funding? Any ideas for regional Councils that might encourage local councillors to see, and possibly act on, parish-based problems in a regional manner?

        1. Dan Boyle

          I’ve stated here before that County Councils should be replaced by District Councils. And that directly elected Regional Authorities should have many of the decision making powers of national powers devolved to them.

          1. Ben Redmond

            Straight answer. What is the difference between a County Council and your suggested District Councils? Do you think that in the medium term elected Regional Councils with devolved powers would gain much support from (a) the electorate and (b) the central government. From the beginning of the state the main parties FF, FG and Lab have used local councils as training grounds for future TDs. They have devolved few powers to local authorities and they have kept them dependent on limited state funding. Accordingly local government politics has tended to be parish pump one-upmanship and funeral chasing by ‘colourful’ visionless elected representatives.

          2. Dan Boyle

            Probably not. Powers from County Councils would be devolved upwards and downwards to the appropriate level. The important aspect of any reform should moving decision making closer to those most affected by such decisions – from national government to regional and from county to district.

  4. eoin

    “This year it will be seventeen years since I last was a member of a local authority. I was first elected half a lifetime ago.” says the 57-year old local council hopeful, showing the Green Party’s mastery of basic arithmetic hasn’t improved much since they were dropkicked out of office eight years ago for their role in the destruction of the economy.

        1. Dan

          Fact: you had your shot at changing Ireland. You failed.
          Fact: eamon ryan thinks that Facebook should have access to our PPS numbers, passport scans and retina scans.
          Fact: green party reduced taxes on polluting diesel cars resulting in significant deterioration in Irish air quality.
          Fact: green party were part of the government that destroyed the Irish economy.
          Over to you Dan Boyle to correct the above facts

          1. GiggidyGoo

            So, Dan Boyle. You think a short post like that addresses it? No opinions yourself then to share?
            Here’s a fact, not an opinion. The reason John Gormley gave for bringing the FF GREEN Government to an end was that FF couldn’t solve their leadership issues.
            Fact or not?
            FF GREENS were at the helm during the economic downturn, yet THAT was the reason given by the agreens for bringing down the government.
            This is the third time of asking you. First time you replied with ‘Its in my book’, and last time you high-tailed it with no reply.

          2. Dan Boyle

            Fact one – Not a fact. Opinion. We did what we could. Succeeded on some things failed on others. It is impossible to guarantee success.
            Fact two – Not a fact. Hildegarde Naughton (FG) has said something like that.
            Fact three – Not a fact. Car tax changes were fuel neutral and emission dependent.
            Fact four – Not a fact. Opinion. Economic decline was multi factorial and fruit of policies that had been pursued prior the Greens being in government.

          3. bisted

            …Fact 5 – Dan wasn’t actually in government…the ungrateful corkonians voted him out despite a countrywide green tide…

          4. Qwerty123

            “Fact: green party reduced taxes on polluting diesel cars resulting in significant deterioration in Irish air quality.”

            reply – “Fact three – Not a fact. Car tax changes were fuel neutral and emission dependent.”

            Agreed they were fuel neutral, but as diesel emit lower CO2 (well meant too anyway) the fact is he is correct Dan Boyle. Diesel may emit lower CO2 but pump a lot more other noxious substances, eg particulate matter.

            In fairness this was not a unique Irish phenomenon but the push to diesel in the noughties on the lower carbon angle was a disaster for air quality in urban areas. Hence we see bans on diesel in large EU cities in place or on the way.

          5. Dan Boyle

            Jaysus Bisted you’re one annoying obsessive. Since you’re pretending to be dealing with facts I’ll respond.
            No Green wave occurred in 2007. The party’s vote increased by one per cent nationally.
            My 2007 vote total was seven votes less than I had received in 2002.
            My vote total and % vote won was higher than that that which elected two of my Green Party colleagues.
            The biggest factor that worked against me was when the now bankrupt Celtic Bookmakers, owned by Ivan Yates, offered 1/30 odds on my re-election. This created a doorstep campaign by opponents I was unable to counter. Such is politics.
            You don’t have to like me, you don’t have to agree with me, but at least try to get your facts right.

          6. GiggidyGoo

            So, Dan Boyle. Fourth time of asking.
            The reason John Gormley gave for bringing the FF GREEN Government to an end was that FF couldn’t solve their leadership issues.
            Fact or not?

        2. GiggidyGoo

          So, will you answer the hard questions with facts when you’re out and about looking for votes, or do you consider such questions abuse?

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    Is Mr. Boyle an ex Green Party member or just an ex Green Party TD? His job title above doesn’t clarify. There is nothing in the above announcement, long as it is, which indicates what environmental issues he intends to tackle if elected.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Apologies that it isn’t the Communist Manifesto with detailed solutions to every conceivable issue with tight timelines. I’m I’ll never convince those who want every answer and want them now.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Whoah, hang on. That was a very rude answer to my very simple and, I thought, reasonable question. One was are you still a member of the Green Party and the other was are you re-entering politics with an environmental agenda?

        Also I don’t watch videos in work. I always find it lazy when people cannot answer a question without resorting to a weblink.

        Height of bad manners. Good day sir.

          1. Spaghetti Hoop

            No I do not. But I used to live in Cork and in that very constituency. Do I need to be a resident to enquire from Mr. Boyle if he will be addressing the environmental concerns in Cork City? Problems like air and water quality, illegal dumping, pollution licenses et al. If I have an interest in how active the Green Party is in Ireland, or how environmental issues are being tackled at local level as well as national level- don’t I have the right to ask an election candidate? If Mr. Boyle’s sarcastic response to me was because I am not in his constituency and therefore not a vote, then the Green Party is in a worse state than I thought.

          2. Forfuppssake

            So if you don’t live in Cork and can’t vote for Dan why should he dignify your unedifying and tedious trolling with anything other than contempt? Otherwise, fair point

      2. Cú Chulainn

        Here’s a fact: the negotiators for the GP agreed to let FF push through the Skyrne valley motorway the night before they started in government. That decision destroyed any credibility the GP had. Probably for at least a generation.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Again not a fact. The road had already gone through the planning system before June 2007. Where we mucked up was being double crossed over Lismullen.

      3. time please

        Dan you’re seeking public office. prepare yourself to be asked questions. you do know your arrogance is visable to the oiks with the votes daring to question you. you’re coming across very Pat Rabbitte and not very Jimmy Rabbitte

  6. johnny

    -there was more than a few laughs and giggles when Cllr Keith Redomnd,shocked the nation with his very sudden and surprising retirement, the yesterday man with the once big future which was so,so bright he had wears sunglasses indoors…..

    “Local Election 2019 Thread #LE19
    In 2014 when I ran for election I was inspired by the possibility to change the way with we did politics in Ireland. The Local Govt Reform promised much with the advent of LPT. I was delighted to be asked by @FineGael to run in Howth-Malahide.”

    Now some very cynically and naughty people have suggested that the fooping shocking revelation in the Guardian,that Japan Tobacco has been secretly funding his Hibernia Forum,was a factor, but not Keith no,no its just a coincidence….


      1. johnny

        -nice sunny day here in NY Frilly, delighted have Senator Black in town, the support here for her bill goes largely unreported in Ireland,but it is significant,she’s not in any way crazy or on some quest,a great Senator and a credit to Ireland,no idiotic PR stunts for her like marching with McGregor:)

        “The answer was indicative of Milstein’s message: The pro-Israel community in the United States has sat complacent in the face of BDS as it has spread across the country, with at least 37 college student councils passing pro-BDS resolutions over the past 14 years and 40 percent of Americans backing sanctions on Israel if it continues to expand illegal settlements. For Milstein, the way forward was to get ugly with BDS supporters, humiliate them, and tar them as racists. With his millions of dollars, he has put that strategy into action.”

        This is a deep dive into an extremely controversial and divisive opponent of Senator Black.

        The insult ‘Judenrat” is widely used in impolite society in NY to describe Jews that collaborate with the current administration,espically after Charlottesville,it derives from the term ‘Judenräte’ or the Jewish councils,that governed the Jewish communities on behalf their Nazi occupiers.
        Cohen x Goldman resigned as he no longer wanted be associated with this pale, male and stale administration-only one minority among the cabinet,Trump is 74 FFS !


        apols-Dan for hijacking your post I do admire your perseverance by the way-all best Senator Black.

      1. SOQ

        Omnivore maybe? Nothing is set in stone Dan.

        Just chatted today to a PhD food science head about the growth of plant based foods and how the discreet revolution has begin. The focus is now about flesh replicas but, early days. The Quorn brand needs to be taken off the shelves immediately imo as it is potentially dangerous to anyone allergic to penicillin.

Comments are closed.