Dan Boyle: Thirty Years Of Dirt


From top: Evening Herald, July 16, 1990; Dan Boyle

My friend and colleague, John Gormley, posted an image on social media recently. It was of an interview he had given in 1990. The tone of the article was downright condescending.

Within seven years of this article John would have become a city councillor, Lord Mayor of Dublin and eventually a Teachta Dála.

The interviewer and author of this article wrote with the intent that neither John Gormley, nor anyone like him, should ever be elected to anything.

The questioning was never meant to be anything but rhetorical. Any alternative vision which challenged the status quo could only be treated with derision.

The Real World has been the callow phrase used by commentators, now as much as then, to denote that those who saw change as being necessary as being fools.

Over the years I have been subject to many of these interviews myself, as have dozens of other Green public representatives. The initial reaction to these constantly hostile interrogations would be to become angry. Eventually we could settle at laughing internally at our interrogators.

We can’t afford to do that, was another predictable phrase we would hear. Much of the time it was worthless to make arguments, knowing they weren’t being listened to.

Still it has been depressing to realise that the Irish media continues to be permeated with journalists who make no attempt at all to understand, choosing instead to undermine from the onset.

This is different from the necessity to criticise and to be criticised. There are many criticisms of The Greens that are justified and necessary.

Often naive sometimes impatient. Much of the time less sure of foot of the means to define our messages or communicate the same.

One thing I believe The Greens are not is impractical.

The now near forty years of being treated as a sub species by the Irish political establishment has hardened the Green Party, but sadly little realism seems to have seeped into the thinking (such as it ever was) of other political parties.

Now, once again, the Green Party is seen as needed if not necessary. It is our numbers that are required, not our policies and certainly not our values.

There have been several commentators who, since the general election, have been berating The Greens for not fulfilling our bestowed duty to serve willingly and unquestionably in the next government.

Once The Greens made known what our priorities would be were we to be part of a government, it seemed something of a revelation to some of these commentators.

The idea that having The Greens in government meant implementing different policies, doesn’t seem to have been part of their equations.

One columnist (part of the same newspaper group that conducted the 1990 interview with John Gormley) took to social media. She asked, without any sense of irony, whether the 7% (average annual reduction of carbon emissions) was “doable?”.

This was an interesting approach to the information cycle. Demand a party be in government. Express surprise at what their policy priorities are. Realise that their presence would produce a different kind of government altogether.

Whether The Greens become part of the next government or not, will depend on whether talks take place that produce a draft programme of government, which gets approved by the Green Party’s membership.

The logic of that sequencing still seems beyond some of our political commentators. They probably can’t afford to understand.

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


Sponsored Link

42 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Thirty Years Of Dirt

    1. Dan Boyle

      I thought it was a fair enough assessment. His judgement would be very close to my own.

  1. bisted

    ‘…one thing I believe the greens are not is impractical’…which is precisely what they turned out to be…hopefully, the new generation who know they were elected on the basis of being part of a movement for change will prove to be part of the downfall of the old order…

  2. Andrew

    “Speaking about Fianna Fail, Mr Boyle said: “We don’t visit each other’s houses but we can have a pint and do business together.”

    And despite yesterday’s startling revelations at the tribunal, and no matter how much the media and opposition taunt them, the Green Party say they will not criticise Bertie Ahern or present themselves as the enforcers of Fianna Fail’s conscience.

    Yet the Greens’ criticism of Mr Ahern’s personal finances and the Fianna Fail ethos was more shrill and sustained than any of the other opposition parties in last year’s election campaign.

    And after yesterday’s evidence in the tribunal, speculation about why Mr Sargent’s stood down from the leadership suggested that he had feared that damaging information about Bertie Ahern’s finances would emerge.

    But, last night, the party was still sticking to its guns and reiterated that they were in government to fulfil their programme and not to ride shotgun on Fianna Fail’s ethics.”

  3. Gerry

    Unfortunately for you Dan, there are enough people who remember when you were last in power.

    Following the debt crisis in 2008/9, in 2010 as the country was staggering towards an election and a humiliating bank bailout the Greens cynically passed a bill on breeding bitches.

    Was that really government and oireachtais time well spent?

  4. Nigel

    Yeah Dan next thing you’ll be telling us that oxygen that we literally need to live is so corrosive it literally rots metal, Dan, just how brainwashed are you Dan

  5. GiggidyGoo

    Well, Dan – seeing as you’re bringing up a bit of history (to suit yourself of course), maybe you’d be of a mind to recount the history of the Greens during the last FF/Green government. The history that your party now choose to leave off the Green Party website. Maybe you’d tell us, in Gormley’s words, why the Greens pulled the plug on that government (and those words didn’t reference the disaster that the financial situation was, courtesy of FF/Green)

    1. Nigel

      One thing I remember about that history is all the other ‘left’ parties refusing to step up and take power at a moment of massive shift and change, an opportunity to fix a broken system that was about to come crashing down, and they all feckin bottled it to keep whining from the sideleines and let everything get worse and the sytem get more entrenched. Completely useless, the lot of them, and still are.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        That time, as it is now, those other parties you mention had and have FF (and FG) well sussed.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Refer to the Greens and to Labour. Sell outs for a bit of power. Too clever for their own good, eh?

  6. Truth in the News

    For a political party that expouse’s the term Green, how come most of its support
    base derives from urban Ireland and that there is none from rural Ireland, in fact
    there is a complete disconnect with those who till the soil and rear the cattle, and
    the view well held in rural Ireland is that the Greens of the Irish version want to
    shut down their livelihood on the pretext that it will reduce emissions, while the
    greatest source of emissions and pollution are elsewhere, in fact the farting fleas
    in China produce a lot more emissions than the entire island of Ireland:

    1. Nigel

      That’s because agriculture in ireland is mostly not particularly green, and like agriculture all over the world will require massive oerhaul and change. The fact that many farmers are entrenched and conservative and reliant on current subsudies dies not change the absilute necessity of that change.

      1. Truth in the News

        And cause a famine, ever figured out how a couple billion extra
        people are going to be fed or will they be culled too like the cattle

        1. Nigel

          If current practices continue, degrading soil fertility, crashing biodiversity and reducung insect population – then you’ll see a famine all right.

      2. Cú Chulainn

        Irish agriculture is next generation green already. The problem with the Greens is that they see rural Ireland as a theme park to visit from the city. A city still full of dirty diesel cars, smothered by an incinerator that billows dioxins over the populace every day. Green is something every one supports, it’s just in Ireland the calibre of member is just a tad low.

        1. Nigel

          ‘Next generation green?’ That’s why they’re ripping out hedgerows and spreading monoculture grass field deserts and monoculture sitka forests and and poisoning waterways with runoff? I don’t know what version of rural Ireland you’re thinking of. Maybe something off a croporate brochure?

  7. abaddon

    FF & FG will make absolute mincemeat of any policies the Greens will want to implement in government. Water charges will be straight back on the agenda and the Greens will end up being the future face of this.

    The Greens will be reduced to supporting poor and scandalous decisions of government made by FF & FG all for the price of Ryan being in cabinet and a couple minister of state positions. FF & FG will, through their embedded journalists, blame the Greens for the future tax increases on the public.

    The more air time and interviews Ryan does in the media the more ridicule the party will receive and the transfers that elected the majority of Green TDs in the last election will vanish and they’ll be lucky to have a single TD after the next GE.

    This will end badly for the Greens just like last time they were in government.

    1. Rob_G

      I’m almost certain the greens were in favour of water charges – any environmentalist would be.

  8. V-19

    Ah I dunno
    I think all this pandering and dancing to the Greens tune is only a ruse to wind up Alan Kelly
    And take the p155 out of Eamonn Ryan, and make a show of their demands and policies

    With Alan they have a Water Charges ally
    and he’s right up their street with housing, particularly FFs
    Something else; Differential Rent is something that would or might, well should if he was genuine about it in the first place, would bring RBB around – just saying

  9. fakenews

    Grreens lead the charge of changing motor tax rates in 2008.
    New greener cars had massive reductions in rates.
    Older cars increased.

    This hurt the poorest in society who couldn’t afford to buy a new car.

    At the time is was driving 10 year old car, its all i could afford. I would often see the same make but newer at traffic lights and think im paying 3 times his tax. I simply couldnt afford a new car. Greens assumed people would just borrow more to by the newer greener cars. They’ve no clue as to average working class struggles.

    Greens are lost in upper middle class land and detached from reality. Very much on the tax everything to change behavior mantra. Im sorry but im sick of that. My taxes currently get me poo poo services and now they want to tax me more.

    How about rewarding change. I ride a motorcycle to commute now. Smaller, takes up less space on the road and good for the environment. Why not give people who make this kinda choice an income tax cut?

    1. Cian

      The motor tax on older cars didn’t increase – it stayed the same; and was based solely on engine size.

      The motor tax on new cars was changed and based solely on CO2 emissions. The idea of basing motor tax on emissions is (in my opinion) sound – but it should be a broader set of emissions.

      As for your bike – two things: (1) the motor tax on motorbikes is only €88 (2) motorbikes aren’t that good for the environment. They are (mostly) energy inefficient and have pretty awful emissions.

      1. fakenews

        Becasue i didnt buy or borrow to buy a new car I was punished. Thats my point.

        And as for motorbikes. They are better for the environment, congestion and cities.
        Incentivising motorbikes will improve all metrics.

        My point is still valid. Its always the stick approach. Taxing as punishment has run its course. Services we currently get are poopy.
        Also with the coming recession where will working people get the extra income the Greens demand?

        We pay Nordic levels of tax for Greek levels of service.

  10. Noel

    Hopefully the Greens grassroots will have nothing to do with Eamon’s wish to add to his pension pot. The guy drives around in a guzzler, ffs. They shamed themselves the last time they were in government – it’s already astounding they got a second chance. Learn from the past? Doubt it.
    It’s time the Greens took stock as an organization, cut the cream at the top and move forward toward being part of a government that ensures a semblence of real change.

  11. Cian

    Gormley’s performance in Government shows that maybe they were right. Killing asthmatics to this day with their short-sighted reactionary jumps

  12. Danny Dullea

    Shell to Sea remembers Eamon Ryan. Initially a supporter… until he became Government Minister & sold them out for power and a pension. This should not be forgotten! First a Green then greedy turncoat. Fool you once shame on him. Fool you twice shame on you!

  13. Donal O'Driscoll

    Dan, you speak as if this is a new debate . Unfortunately Dan , some of us remember 2007. When you personally led the Green Party in talks about the formation of a new government. Ye entered that government. You remember the government right? The one that broke the country? It must be great to be able to re-write history that you don;t care to remember? Unfortunately we don’t all have bad memories or selective amnesia.

    You spent over three years in government with your buddies in Fianna Fáil. What did you achieve in that time? Fancy lightbulbs! What was the price for you of those fancy lightbulbs.
    Well just off the top of my head:
    1. Ye capitulated on the Lisbon Treaty
    2.Ye capitulated on Rossport.
    3. Ye capitulated on the Skryne Valley motorway
    4. Ye facilitated the Bailout. which sent this country into recession.

    All the while ye protested that ye were only following orders. Where have we heard that before? Ye had one opportunity to show a bit of backbone and ye bottled it. You held the Irish people down while Fianna Fáil had their way with us.

    If people like Ciarán Cuffe Éamon Ryan and yourself actually cared about the Green Party, ye would step aside and allow the party to move forward under a new leadership that aren’t tainted. But ye won’t because ye are complete self serving opportunists. You have zero political integrity. This is probably why the Green Party in Cork correctly rejected you and went for a younger more progressive candidate who isn’t tainted by participation in economic treason against the Irish people.

  14. Daisy Chainsaw

    If the Greens want any political future, they need to stay out of the next government. A FFG coalition will not be good for the country and when it all goes bits up, if the Greens are part of that coalition, they’ll get the blame and be punished badly at the ballot box like they were after propping up FF during the crash. Regardless of the concannonbots bleating that not going into coalition would be political suicide, the Greens should bide their time and wait for the next election to make that decision.

  15. Mé Féin

    You did screw us over in government with the Fianna Failures, Dan. Let’s keep things real here.

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Link