Dan Boyle: Power To The People


From top: Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin (left) with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (centre) and Senator Pippa Hackett at the Royal Society of Antiquaries Ireland Dublin for the Green Party General Election Campaign Launch yesterday; Dan Boyle

For the first time in my political life I find myself involved in a general election, where I am still very much emotionally invested, if not psychologically so.

In 2016 I was lucky to have had the distraction of working in Wales to help me to avoid sulking at not being on a ballot paper for the first time in twenty five years.

Like all Greens I was pleased to see the party move towards recovery. On my return from Wales I re-engaged to play my own, small, part in taking the party’s recovery further.

The local and Election results in 2019 were truly astounding. No one was more surprised than me.

Success brings its own problems. Among those being how to manage expectation. We know from experience that Irish voters have been more inclined to vote Green in local and European elections than in general elections. There is a hope that this may not be the case this time.

I’m so glad not to be a candidate on this occasion. I’m not saying that should the circumstances have demanded it I would not have stepped into the breach, but I would have done so with less enthusiasm or energy.

Having someone of great ability, and with a far stronger skill set, to be there instead is a source of great relief to me.

Being a candidate, seeking to represent any party or none, is hard. It places huge constraints upon your personal time and resources. It turns you into a paranoic, not knowing whether you are behaving, speaking or doing anything that would make any voter think less kindly of you.

In a smaller party there is certainly some licence to be associated with some beliefs or values. However the Irish political system has been dominated by catch all parties that seek to be everything to everyone at all times. Every deviation from the norm is punished.

Whether we have a new politics, or have finally rid ourselves of civil war politics, may be what this general election helps us resolve. Or maybe not.

It is our fifth general election of the twenty first century. A trend can be identified where the old order, if it hasn’t actually collapsed has certainly been significantly chipped away at.

Its diminution has created a chasm that has yet to be filled. Than is unlikely to be closed after this vote, which will be another transition election.

My preference has always been for evolution rather than revolution. For some, even within my own party, this puts me into a category of being ideologically impure. But I am old and I have heard these arguments many, many times before.

I’ve learned that it is possible to be pragmatic while seeking radical change. Where progressives have failed in the past has been the desire to achieve all necessary change immediately. The failure to prioritise through agreeing what can be done when and how, has in the past delayed change.

I envy the passion of those coming through. The confidence of certainty can sustain such passion to help bring about change. Making that change last. Making it real. Making it help fuel future change is the challenge of the next generation.

They might think about those of us who have tried while they are doing so.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


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10 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Power To The People

  1. Listrade

    Couple of things that can’t go unchallenged:
    1. My preference has always been for evolution rather than revolution
    2. Where progressives have failed in the past has been the desire to achieve all necessary change immediately.

    The latter is easiest to deal with. No, progressives haven’t failed because of their desire, they’ve failed because the political hegemony of maintaining wealth with power is too strong to fight on their own…or their failure was that they chose to abandon their desire in order that they maintained their own power. But a specific example of a small idealistic party abandoning all principles to cling by its finger nails and preserve personal power over the greater good fails to come to mind at this specific point. Maybe you have one?

    Anyway, the first point is false from a political and philosophical point. It sounds good. It appeals to the moderates, but it is wrong. I would suggest that at a time where we are in the midst of various centenary landmarks, making a claim that those moderates who would have compromised and had Ireland as a part of the Commonwealth were right. That the progressives who chose revolution were wrong. I mean, can we have a more pertinent example of where moderates pursuing an evolution were wrong? Where the powerful will always win in those issues? Where the powerful will always steamroller the moderates?

    Look at something as simple as Okrent’s Law. As a Green you should know this. You’ve been fighting this your whole life. How did compromise help us with climate change? We needed revolution and you gave us compromise. You were the small progressives and you compromised and you got us to where we are. That goes back to the second point. It wasn’t the desire for change that failed, it’s that the desire was either a spin that was used to gain political power or it just wasn’t strong enough to fight for over personal power.

    But back to Okrent, because he’s similar to Bukovsky (there’s always room for an old revolutionary), but there is no compromise between a fact and a lie. The sky is blue. Me saying it is yellow, doesn’t make us compromise on green. It. Is. Blue.

    The compromise on Home Rule was the Commonwealth. Why? Because those Irish politicians who favoured the compromise were more interested in their own political status and power and wealth than the people they claimed to represent. Commonwealth seemed like a nice way they could stay in power and deliver a result. But it was an idea born out of the very common notion that the Irish were too stupid and too backward to self govern. The home politicians either acquiesced to that belief or believed it themselves.

    I don’t mean to make it personal, but you do say it is your belief that evolution and compromise are they way. Yet….Yet you write on here about the climate crisis. The lack of action, the political failure. That one topic isn’t an exception to your rule (there are too many examples for it to be an exception), it disproves your belief.

    You can’t compromise between a fact requiring action and a lie based on a status quo of personal wealth. The media tries so it can seem balanced (that’s where Okrent comes in). Are you saying that when RTE have a climate expert on to debate with an extremely ill informed denier that this doesn’t annoy you? Do you really believe that when the Greens were in power and opted for compromise instead of sticking to “your desire to achieve all necessary change immediately” that we are now paying for that?

    And final thing is that here we are on the point of a climate crisis (I’m sure you’d agree). Let’s forget for now the other issues that have been created by the wealthy and the powerful and stick with that. Even now. Even with all you’ve written on climate change. We are weeks away from an election. The Greens will want to get themselves into power. They will use the current climate crisis as an agenda item. And you’re telling us that we won’t get the revolution we need, that we’ll get more compromising of principles to get a taste of power again.

    In fairness, we knew that. We knew that this whole flapping of concern for any agenda was a mask to get into power. Beat the elites over the head and blame them for [insert agenda], get into power and join the elites on the gravy train for as long as you can. We all cried when we saw the cute turtles choking on plastic. We wrote angry tweets about the Australian bush fires. If only there was something someone would do, like get into power and live up to the promises they made and not go for the self-centred option of compromise.

  2. Gabby

    From the happy picture it is clear that the Greens fancy leather-bound books. How many calves and goats were slaughtered to produce the bindings?

  3. Frank O

    and not a word from Dan in reply to Listrades eloquent execution.
    don’t vote for Dan Boyle hes a chancer.
    don’t vote green they are just hungry pigs waiting for the trough

    1. Dan Boyle

      I’m not standing. I don’t agree with it. They don’t agree with me I don’t agree with them. Don’t see the point of responding…..

          1. Cú Chulainn

            No Dan. Because you are incapable of listening to any opinion that is critical of you, your thinking and actions.

          2. bisted

            …Dan demonstrated his ability to heed no opinion other than the right one (his own) when he managed to get dumped by the Cork electorate despite a countrywide green surge in 2002…

  4. Dan Boyle

    I was elected in 2002. In 2007 I wasn’t elected. I secured seven less votes. The 2002 the national Green vote was 3.7%. In 2007 it was 4.7%. In neither election was there a green surge.

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