Dan Boyle: How Green Are My Rallies


From top: Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald  (right) with TDs David Cullinane (left) and Pearse Doherty at a rally in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork on Monday

A number of people I know attended the first of the Sinn Féin’s ‘I can’t believe it’s not an election’ rallies.

Some went out of curiosity. Others were converts to the idea that Sinn Féin, of itself represents the change that is needed in Irish society.

For the most part the overwhelming number, among a very impressiave audience, there were those already part of Sinn Féin family. A cursory look at registration plates in the hotel car park showed many had travelled considerable distances to be there.

It was a rallying of the troops (if you excuse the military analogy) meant to celebrate what had been achieved and tantalise about what could be.

Nuremberg it wasn’t. Nor was it anything new or novel in Irish politics.

On losing power in 1948 De Valera engaged in a nationwide (and international) tour to solidify and strengthen his party’s support. The chimera was that the meetings were tagged as being anti partition events.

The coming into being of Fine Gael in 1932 was pressaged by a series of open air rallies held under the auspices of the Army Comrades Association/National Guard (The Blueshirts) led by the infamous Eoin O’Duffy (first leader of Fine Gael, since written out of the party’s history).

New parties established between elections, like the Progressive Democrats and more recently Aontú, have engaged in nationwide tours, attracting significant attendances, when trying to establish themselves.

Large gatherings didn’t always ensue, but seeds were sown in ways that showed that another Ireland was possible.

Before I began thinking of becoming politically involved, I was impressed when two friends of mine joined the Democratic Socialist Party, developed by the much missed Jim Kemmy TD, after a low key not very well attended meeting in Cork.

A more justified criticism of the current Sinn Féin exercise is its implied theme of victors as victims.

The only clear result from the 2020 election is that there has been no winner. There are parties that have been more successful than others, but no party has been given the ability, of itself and by itself, to determine what happens next.

What has happened in this election is a rejection of traditional ways of practicing and expressing our politics. The difficulty that has arisen, and it should just as well be seen as an opportunity, is that the direction of change while significant has not been sufficient not to have government that also doesn’t include one or other (and maybe both) of our civil war parties.

The contrived angst of castigating other political parties for having the audacity of engaging with the public, is an example of the many ways we have practiced politics in the past having failed.

The same is true is about the somewhat empty concerns of shadowy figures indirectly influencing the process of government. As far as I am concerned this is a critique that could be applied as much to the Construction Industry Federation as it would to any self styled Army Council.

We are a representative democracy with many participatory elements. Our undervalued Constitution obliges us to politically behave like this.

The problem has been that our representative system has behaved for too long on the basis that elections are the consultation. Further consulations, by this logic, would be further elections.

This why the much vaunted talk about change has to be about more than a change of personnel. It has to be more than a change of practice.

Ultimately it has to be about a change of culture.

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

Pic: Twitter/SF

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17 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: How Green Are My Rallies

  1. Politico

    Nah, they probably didn’t travel long distances. Possibly Corkonians who bought second-hand cars (hence the number plates) due to the economic crash caused under this author’s Green Party’s watch.

  2. Cian

    “We are a representative democracy with many participatory elements. Our undervalued Constitution obliges us to politically behave like this.”

    Sinn Fein have never supported Bunreacht na hÉireann, as the political wing of the IRA they were in total contradiction of Article 15.6:
    1° The right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas.
    2° No military or armed force, other than a military or armed force raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or maintained for any purpose whatsoever.

    …and they have huge problems with the name of our country.

    1. RuilleBuille

      Seems you have a huge problem with people voting in a manner other than what the Irish Independent tells us.

    2. Truth in the News

      Did not the 1937 Constitution he claim that it encompassed the entire Ireland
      was the continuance of RUC, the B Specials and the occupation of a foreign army
      a contravention of its terms……..?

      1. Cian

        Totally. The 1937 Constitution laid claim to the 6 counties…but didn’t offer the people in the 6 counties a democratic vote in accepting Bunreacht na hÉireann (or not) – so that was bonkers – although article 3 did acknowledge this.

        The 19th amendment fixed that anomaly.

        1. Truth in the News

          Actually the 1937 Constitution had a poor turnout and a substantial
          section of the electorate did not vote at all, and one wonders should it
          be put to the people again for further endorsement, as nearly everyone
          who voted for it is dead including one Eammon DevValera and lest we
          forget him John Charles McQuade

  3. Truth in the News

    How come the Legion of Rearguard and the Blueshirts have not run gathering’s
    of their supporters to discuss and determine whether they should form a, coalition
    Government with each other, perhaps they might be well forced into it as the Shinners
    gather momentum and erode their support and membership base, the Febrruary
    Election result has triggered a political avalanche which will have far reaching
    consequences for the so called Establishment Ireland

    1. A Person

      A political avalanche? You shinners are off your heads. You can’t even form a govt. You still have to have an unelected person in Ireland at every rally.

  4. italia'90

    ***Breaking news: Man takes cursory look at registration plates in hotel car park and concludes that many had travelled considerable distances to be there.

    Next week we discover that nepotism is very fortunate for Green relations

  5. V

    Whistle Stop Tour
    Is what these are

    And in fairness it an American thing that I do hope all the other Parties take to as well
    Especially PbP as I really to want to see Richard BBs approach to housing spread out there

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