Dan Boyle: Trust And Terrify

at | 6 Replies

Dan Boyle (above) joins An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, an environmental non-governmental organisation, yesterday

This week I became a member of An Taisce. Outside of my being a part of the Green Party I have never been much of a joiner.

While I would be a supporter of environmental non-governmental agencies (NGOs), I’ve tended to offer that support from the outside. I’m likely to change that approach now.

The professional distance between environmental NGOs and The Green Party hasn’t been mutually beneficial. I have long argued that the relationship should be similar to that historically the Labour Party has enjoyed with trade unions.

Environmental NGOs have argued that they need to treat all political parties equally and equidistantly. While political neutrality is important for campaigning organisations, when it comes to environmental NGOs I believe its application can counterproductive.

Other political parties believe these NGOs are entwined with the Green Party. The reality is very different. In order to not be perceived as some sort of military wing of The Greens, the NGOs tend to over compensate by often being hyper-critical of The Greens, based on expectations that don’t get applied to other political parties.

I believe that these NGOs and The Greens should become more comfortable that we come from the same place, and that we are perceived by the rest of the political world for having done so.

This isn’t to say that NGOs shouldn’t criticise The Greens. Exerting external pressure keeps every political party on its toes, especially when in government. What I would be asking for is that that the scope and context of such, often justified, criticism be more measured.

The frustrations of seeking to achieve through campaigning gets further amplified by the obstacles subsequently experienced through the political system.

Focus gets emphasised upon these frustrations. The differences on strategic approaches get exaggerated. The expectations of what can be achieved by when and how become the heart of disagreement. What gets forgotten is all involved are committed to going in the same direction. All which to achieve the same things.

It was in this spirit of lost solidarity that I have decided to join An Taisce. As traditional politics and politicians revealed a barely concealed contempt for the idea that environmental campaigning is valid and valuable, I’ve decided that these were my brothers and sisters and together we do the same work.

There are other environmental NGOs that I should, can and probably will join. The membership fees will be drain on my finances but I reckon it will be a price worth paying.

Within those groups will be members and supporters of other political parties, just as there are in trade unions. Within such groups I will argue that the relationship between them and The Greens is, and should be, more symbiotic.

Nevertheless a valuable role NGOs do play is that of being open to different perspectives, in a more broad way than can be found in political parties whose approach can be closeted.

Another valuable role campaigning organisations can play is both lead and better reflect public opinion in its demand for change. Something that politics, politicians and political parties are not particularly good at.

I supposed I’ll be going to even more meetings now.

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

Join An Taisce here

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6 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Trust And Terrify

  1. Ronan

    If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em eh Dan?

    There’s enough soft/explicit lobbying by vintners and others in the Dáil, without a party now aligning with this lobby group.

    I voted for you (the Cork South Central candidate, and the party) No.1 in 2007 – this wasn’t just about a Green agenda, but to do with your standards in public office etc, and socially progressive stands on most issues.

    This thinking confirms a slide into the way of thinking that the establishment parties hold. FF and FG court this through farming, GAA and other rural groups, as well as keeping an army of barristers in their ranks, Labour through your aformentioned union affiliation, SF don’t need to have lobby groups (online abuse squads notwithstanding), they just wave little flags and lillies and tune into the 19th century assertion of a ‘celt’ Irish that was bandied around by those trying to conceive an nationalist identity – and subsequently drilled into us in schools since the formation of the state.

    Be better than this, stand on your own two feet as a party and lobby from the Dáil and the Seanad, and from your grass roots meetings. Create initiatives as the Green party, and speak as the Green party – don’t join lobby groups and simultaneously hurl from the ditch!

    Reply
    1. Nigel

      Yeah better to avoid being the risk of compared to FF/FG by completely avoiding lobbying for anything at all, and certainly not supporting an organisation whose function is the protection of heritage and the environment. If the Greens succesfully defend An Taisce from the depredations of their neoliberal coalition partners, then they’ll actually have justified going into government with them.

      Reply
      1. V AKA Frilly Keane

        This

        BTW
        Am I the only one surprised that an elder Green Party member and public rep has only now become a signed up member of An Taisce

        So much for Cooperation within Environmentalists

        Like how many Labour members are also members of a Trade Union – same goes for other Party Politicans & Independents

        Or – how many Oireachtas members are also members of different Professional Bodies, like say the Law Society

        Go down through the list of registered Lobbiests there
        Betcha you’ll find loads of groups there that include Politicans as members & supporters

        I dunno
        Pretty flimsy reason for not walking your talk there Dan
        ’till now

        Reply
        1. Nigel

          It is a curious omission, and it’s one of a few Irish environmental groups that can be joined and that would, presumably, show a stronger front if they were working together and with political parties that shared their concerns.

          Reply
  2. Babs yer uncle

    Great idea Dan, The environment will surely thank you for attending more meetings. Just keep the windows closed so that all the hot air won’t blow a gigantic hole in the ozone.

    Reply

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