Dan Boyle: Phil The Fluter’s Other Ball


From top: Phil Hogan (right) with Michael Noonan at the Fine Gael ard fheis in 1999; Dan Boyle

I try not to let personal feelings sway me too much when making political assessments. Character is important, so is competency. So is achieving.

The motivation of most in politics is to try make a difference, bring about change, make the world a better place.

Few get the opportunity to make that difference. Of the few who do many of us will fail miserably. If honestly attempted there should no shame in that. We dream that change can be revolutionary when circumstances often show us otherwise.

As a counterpoint to constant failure, achievement for some in politics has been to equate success with position.

I see Phil Hogan as an exemplar of that sort of politics. He has achieved significant positions in his political life. That is up until now.

I take no pleasure in anyone’s resignation but many will be relieved that this resignation has been eked out eventually.

It was only a number of weeks ago that Phil Hogan went on a career fishing expedition, announcing he was investigating the possibility of putting himself forward, for consideration, as head of the World Trade Organisation. Could he have been more coy?

Now he will not be able to hold onto his current exalted status. The argument that he be allowed to remain centred around his apparent importance.

Not his ability, not his capability, his importance. Being in a position makes you important. Any analysis of what you have done gets deemed superfluous when you are The Man, it seems.

Phil Hogan’s career path has been relentless – a councillor, a Senator, a TD, a Junior Minister, a Cabinet Minister, before becoming an EU Commissioner first at Agriculture latterly at Trade.

I know that it is subjective but I can’t think of a single policy achievement he has had. He was a particular disaster as Minister for the Environment.

His handling of water charges was appalling. He helped rid local government in Ireland of many of its democratic elements. He interrupted and reversed our responsibility as a country in addressing climate change.

His particular skills seem to be having been in the right place supporting the right people at the right time.

He seemed to assume the position of Fine Gael’s fixer, that was once held by Michael Lowry. He managed to keep Enda Kenny in post as Fine Gael leader mere months before he became Taoiseach.

This was despite, it was thought, most Fine Gael TDs wanting Enda to step down.

Success came with a reputation of being ‘hard’. An example of his hardness was a crude, sexist comment to an older women he made at an Oireachtas Golfing Society in 2011. He has also been recorded making bigoted comments on travellers.

He decided if he was to become an European Commissioner. Ruairi Quinn made an attempt to highlight his willingness. Phil wasn’t having any of that.

The two roles he has held could have been utilised to achieve great change. In both portfolios he could have argued for better environmental standards making the European Union the standard bearer it claims to be.

That hasn’t happened nor with Phil in charge was it ever likely to. It’s likely he doesn’t believe in change, except to change back to what was before. For him position and prestige is gained by defending and protecting the status quo. There are still too many Big Phils in our politics.

Neither Ireland nor the EU needs Phil Hogan. None of us need his attitude.

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


30 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Phil The Fluter’s Other Ball

  1. Janet, I ate my avatar

    hahahahah, the motivation in politics is to make a difference…all evidence points to the contrary

    1. scottser

      the only change they’re interested in is ensuring their own snout gets at the trough. a shower of dastards is all they are.

      1. Boj

        How is it possible NOT to be governed by a shower of dastards? Power greed and influence corrupts as we can see. So how do we run a country without creating the next shower?

        1. Janet, dreams of big guns

          cut wages to a reasonable sum, help attract people who might actually care about making a difference,
          how about a nurses wage ?

          1. Boj

            Agree on the wage cut! Theres also the pull of the private sector and the general hassle that comes with being in the public eye. It’s a dilly of a pickle.

          2. Janet, dreams of big guns

            would need some cultural changes about who we seem to think is worthy of our attention, unbend the knee

          3. curmudgeon

            A nurses wage eh? Average pay of a staff nurse in 2018 was 58K, plus a defined benefit pension. They get more now. Hell Some nurses take in 140K! Do people think nurses are on low pay or something?

          4. Janet, dreams of big guns

            I did believe nurses to be underpaid for the hours they do, why do so many Irish nurses leave for England or Australia if they have it so good here ?

          5. Cian

            Why would a reduced wage attract more people?
            Surely if you want to make a difference a higher salary isn’t a blocker.

          6. Janet, dreams of big guns

            attract the person with the right motivation, so actually ideally attract less people, especially the kind that are currently attracted to positions, weed them out

  2. phil

    Remember when Phil was involved in privatisation refuse collection?
    Was that a success ?
    I often wondered how Greyhound got my personal details ….
    I wonder if Phil will end up working for them …

  3. d

    i needed a small win after all the an unfortunate 5-6 months. And bye-bye phil shows that there is some justice in Ireland and i have faith in the public to stand up to this kind of carry on.

    1. Janet, dreams of big guns

      fired would be a win, now we have the privilege of paying for him to play golf full time, sounds like a welfare cheat to me

          1. Fergalito

            No difference to his pension …. see “you have what you hold” as a general rule when it comes to pension benefits and politicians.

  4. Joe

    Good grief, I wonder what mushrooms Dan had for breakfast. Eamon Ryan and the Greens wanted Water companies and additional water charges, Thug Hogan and FG loved them whilst ram rodding in the billing company Irish Water. The Greens and FG are bosom buddies. Once again Dan as always has pots calling kettles black in his column. The Greens were deservedly booted out of government previously and will be again

  5. GiggidyGoo

    I hope he can afford all of those houses/apartments and pay the service charges involved.
    Amazing that almost all turned against him. Blue Hugh as well. Then again, didn’t the bould Phil have a run in with the Indo ‘journalists’ after his soujourn to Qatar?
    Hasn’t the Daily Mail another unpublished photo of that trip?

  6. Otis Blue

    But the likes of Hogan and his fetid ilk don’t just come from nowhere. They’re elected precisely because they reflect the values and aspirations of their constituents, plenty of whom will happily game the system for any advantage or preferment.

    Change will come dropping slow.

  7. Truth in the News

    All that Hogan did in his capacity as a Minister at the Customs House need to be undone, quite
    a few Civil Servants were part of the show too, like Hogan they need rooting out too, as an initial
    move the needs to the abolishment of the Quango Irish Water and its functions transferred where
    it should have remained in the Custom House, then there is the interference and shutting down
    of local government bodies that were established to full fill the role of local government, as to
    the claim that Hogan was indespencible in Europe, as touted by an element from the Irish
    Farmers Journal a mouthpiece of the IFA, what action did he take to cap EU payments to large
    farmers under CAP and did he do anything to force the Dublin Government to reform and
    break up the monopolies that control the meat processing sector, he did nothing, what we
    had over the last 10 years is the Blueshirt version of Fianna Fail enclosed in a curtain of
    concealment…,.we are well did of Hogan, next is Woulfe followed by Hayes and their minions.

  8. GiggidyGoo

    Now would be a good time to revisit the planning scandal in Carlow/Kilkenny where the investigation was knocked on the head by Hogan, who incidentally was an auctioneer prior to entering politics. Any politicians up for it?

  9. Paul

    I whole heartedly agree with Dan.
    Sadly change has come ‘dropping slowly’
    We are all ****ed globally if we don’t speed up (change)
    and slow down Climate Change

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