Dan Boyle: Resigned To Fate


From top: Barry Cowen (left) in Dublin Castle last Tuesday; Dan Boyle

A dismissal rather than a resignation is rare in Irish political life. After Barry Cowen’s brief ministerial sojourn, we need to go back thirty years to have had a similar instance.

Hugh Coveney (father of our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon) could be said to have been constructively dismissed in 1995 when he was thought to have had inappropriate contact with a businessman.

It was thought a red card offence, although he was part compensated by being offered a Minister of State position.

Jim McDaid could have pursued a breach of promise action when he was offered a cabinet appointment in 1991, but was never appointed.

Being seen outside the Four Courts in the aftermath of an extradition hearing of a constituent, Fianna Fáil’s then partners in government, the Progressive Democrats, did not want him sitting at the cabinet table.

The last direct dismissal from an Irish cabinet was that of Brian Lenihan Senior in 1990. In the midst of a presidential campaign Lenihan was shown to have difficulties with his ‘mature recollection’.

The notoriously difficult to please PDs told then Taoiseach, Charlie Haughey, that this was something with which they would not put up with.

Lenihan also held the office of Tánaiste at the time. It created the surreal situation that the Fianna Fáil candidate to be the nation’s first citizen, was simultaneously thought unsuitable to be a member of government.

The most famous cabinet dismissals occurred in 1970 on foot of the Arms Crisis. Then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, sought but did not receive the resignations of Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney. They were told to leave cabinet.

Otherwise, outside of cabinet reshuffles, ministerial resignations have been the order of the day. Often such resignations have been encouraged.

More often than not the reasons behind enforced cabinet changes have been about character issues rather than issues of governance.

These reasons have tended be placed on failed attempts to cover up what, otherwise, may have been more explainable indiscretions.

We have been fortunate that foibles of a personal nature have not played so largely in our politics, nor have we had a media who have seen fit to delve in such areas.

Unfortunately there never seems to have been an occasion that someone has lost ministerial office solely on the basis that they weren’t very good at their job.

Effective accountability should be the ability of measuring the competence of any office holder. There has been too little of that in the Irish political system.

Geography should never be a factor in making up a cabinet. Gender has to be. A century into independence it is a balance we are continuing not to get right.

Experience has a role but not an overriding one. It constantly needs to be blended with new thinking and approaches.

Everything else is a lottery. Any government is amalgam. Coalition government particularly is so. What coalition governments are not is a marriage.

The three does not become one. A programme for government is the basis for a government to act as a single entity. Otherwise it is the sum of its component parts.

At times those component parts will act independently of each other, often returning to type. Otherwise known as politics.

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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55 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Resigned To Fate

  1. Cian

    Geography should never be a factor in making up a cabinet. Gender has to be.
    Why one and not the other?

    If you think that there should be a (representative) mix of genders at cabinet, then should there not also be a mix of rural/urban (which is geography); Also a mx of old/young; a mix of parents/non-parents;

    1. newsjustin

      Surely geography is more important than gender.

      I mean, our entire lower house of parliament is specifically structured on the basis of representative’s geographic constituency.

  2. bisted

    …when I saw the headline ‘resigned to fate’ I was sure you’d be trying to explain how you failed again to get any of the sweeties handed to the greens for their betrayal of the movement for change…

  3. Gabby

    Humility was never a reason given for a ministerial resignation. No minister ever resigned saying, I don’t really feel up to this job and am making way for a more able person than me. As the good book sayeth: The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, [but that’s the way to bet at Paddy Power’s.]

  4. GiggidyGoo

    My, aren’t you the great one on FFG history Dan?
    Not so much though on the history of the Greens which has been removed from the Green website (It’s still available on Wayback Dan). In fact, you run away from the subject quite quickly don’t you?

    1. Tom Wong

      You’re a really terrible troll and bully
      I don’t know how the moderators tolerate your unending aggression
      I really don’t

        1. Tom Wong

          Thank you Bodger. Such as it is, he’s certainly done that. I find it a bit unfair that genuine commentators such as Dan, whom I often also disagree with completely, as it happens, are often hectored and bullied in this way on this site but still it continues. Just my two cents.

          1. Gabby

            Anybody who writes an article on this site is entering the lion’s den. It’s not a safe pound for stray pussycats.

          2. Tom Wong

            Nor should it be. But Dan is often subject to uniquely sustained abuse from one or two regular commentators. Dan is the soul of discretion for the most part.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Obviously they don’t tolerate you to much if you have to change your name regularly.

        1. sidhe

          that’s a truly ridiculous assertion, one you level at every commenter here who disagrees with you

          failing that, you can always call them ‘your personal stalker’, as you do with Rob_G, an equally ridiculous moniker

        2. GiggidyGoo

          Unfortunatley sihde, it’s true about this one changing name regularly.

          And I don’t level it at every commenter who disagrees with me.

  5. GiggidyGoo

    Sorry, Dan I don’t want to line your pockets.

    But you’ve been asked many times now about it here, and your default reply is ‘my books’.

    What exactly are you afraid of Dan?
    Maybe confirmation of the real reason the Greens brought down the FF/Green government? Was that in your best sellers Dan?

      1. Rob_G

        Sorry, which of us is the one that is supposed to the troll again, I thought it was me(?)

      2. Cian

        Just a guess, but perhaps the answer can’t be covered in one or two sentences. Maybe you would need a whole book (or two) to explain the situation and describe any nuances.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            @Cian. The part I don’t know the answer to, and which won’t be in his book, is why the history is no longer available to view on the green website.

      3. Vanessanelle

        InJesus Christ Gippitty

        Nothing pleases you
        Always glass half empty

        Get up off your botty bumpkins
        Source the answers yourself
        Instead’a scrounging freebies
        And scouring the place with your grumpy short-tempered
        And mostly mucker thick Output

        Nobody here owes you anything
        If you’re not satisfied with the info and or the responses you get to your endless questioning, pestering, and demands to be spoonfed answers
        Like you’re the Head Master

        Get them somewhere else

        You seem to think we’re answerable to you
        Well guess what lad

        I’m not

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Jesus Nellie, you seem to think everything is about you. How did the ‘we’ come into it. I didn’t reply to any of your posts. Apply your diatribe to yourself.

          Dan Boyle writes freely here about other political parties, but he’s not very forthcoming about the real reason the Greens pulled the plug, and what seems to be riling him is that he and this party are being called out on the removal of party history. If he’s prepared to write about other political parties, then shouldn’t he be prepared to explain about his own?

          1. GiggidyGoo

            He gave us a history lesson in this article. Yet runs when it comes to his own party history.

            It’s great that he has gofers though to send links to his books.

            Doubtful if those books will tell us why Dan won’t tell us why the Green history has been deleted from the green website.

            If he is ashamed of being associated with Gormley etc. (no history about him on the website?) or the reason they propped up the FFers, only to pull the plug because of FFs delay in choosing a leader, then so be it. Case closed. Onwards and upwards, new slate etc.

            But by avoiding the issue, what then can be taken from it?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            BTW. the book you linked to was published in 2006. Three years before what I’m posting about. Cop on yourself.

          3. GiggidyGoo

            No reviews on it Dan.
            And the new price is cheaper than the used price. Original price USD 24.99, and the new price is now USD 3.72.
            I can see it is for the period of interest. But Gormley did give the reason – FFs inability to choose a leader. I don’t need the book for that as it’s recorded on wayback.
            Why though delete the history of the party from public view on the website?

        2. Dan Boyle

          Ignorance I can forgive. Lazy thinking and selective reading I find unforgivable.










          1. GiggidyGoo

            Well you provided the link Dan. Your selection. No reviews at the Amazon link. Price as quoted by me.

            But you can forgive the removal of history of the green party from its website. How’s that for selective?

            You quote newspaper reports, but somehow don’t quote the leader of the green party at the time. I’ll quote him for you shall I?

            “For a very long time we in the Green Party have stood back in the hope that Fianna Fail could resolve persistent doubts about their party leadership. A definitive resolution of this has not yet been possible. And our patience has reached an end.”

            Really? Such an historic moment for the green party, yet removed from the website.
            Now, why is that?

          2. Rob_G

            But was that really worth all of your hectoring and bullying of the contributor? I’m sure if you went on the wayback machine to look at the websites of FG, FF, SF or the tories or anyone, you find revisions and changes of a webpage that is 10 years’ old; I’m trying to figure if your haranguing of Dan was down to pure spite, or if you are genuinely that dense…

          3. Tom Wong

            They do say it takes one to know one….

            Man attacks other broadsheet commentator for hectoring and bullying having just had his bellyful of doing just that to a third….

          4. GiggidyGoo

            It’s a question I’ve asked a number of times of Dan. Maybe focus a bit more on the supply of everything including links to books, except an answer.

            Dan is a elected public representative who has a facility to write here. Do you think that his and his party’s views should be held up to scrutiny or not?

          5. italia'90

            This has to be a classic example of the stalker grievance…
            “Why do we never go where I want to go.”

          6. Tom Wong

            Unreal, and it’s recidivist behaviour if Bodger’s response yesterday is anything to go by. Bodger walks a fine line as a Giggigy posts here at least 100 times a day on average which keeps the clicks up, that is, if anyone ever reads what he says.

          7. GiggidyGoo

            Maths isn’t a strong point for you then.?
            You obviously read my posts, and reply under multiple aliases.

  6. Vanessanelle

    And I know coming from me – probably less than nothing

    Dan is the best writer here
    By a long shot

    And his book ‘Making up the Numbers’ is a must for any Paddy who claims interested in politics in their profiles

    And he is well aware of his role, so far, in our Political Story

      1. Tom Wong

        No, not anonymous, it’s Tom here just logging in on my main device again.
        Have a long hard look at yourself friend, you’ve heard the truth now from a number of your fellows on here I see, enjoy the day, hugzzz

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Are you saying that you don’t use one username across all devices? You must have a lot of devices then.

          1. Tom Wong

            Two devices Inspector Closeau and I made the mistake yesterday of logging in with a seperate device and username to comment on a thread I had been commenting on using my main device. Bodger gently pointed out to me that this wasn’t in line with their commenting policy and I have amended my usernames now to coincide.

            What’s your excuse buddy for your constant and flagrant breaches of website policy?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            “What’s your excuse buddy for your constant and flagrant breaches of website policy?”
            Do elaborate.

Comments are closed.