Author Archives: Dan Boyle

From top Green Party’s Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration; Dan Boyle

Ten years ago, this week, I spoke in the Seanad on the Civil Partnership Bill (the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Bill, to give it its full title).

I argued that, as was the approach taken by dozens of other countries, it was stepping stone legislation that would see, within a number of years, the recognition and introduction of same sex marriage

I said it was another in a series of reforming pieces of legislation, that sought to redress the often backwards and repressive societal attitude in Ireland towards sex and sexuality, which itself sought to shame and discriminate against so many of our citizens.

Attitudes that were far different than those that existed on our island at the time of the Brehon laws.

Some Senators (led by Rónán Mullen) wanted to insert a conscience clause into the legislation, seeking to preserve the right to discriminate under the veil of religious belief. Having done Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ as part of my Leaving Cert, I thought it opportune to quote: “Thus Conscience does make cowards of us all.”

I also quoted John F. Kennedy who, in the course of his 1960 US presidential campaign, made a speech on how legislators should determine the common good outside of personal religious belief.

In that speech he said:

“I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair … and whose fulfilment of his presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation … Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates.”.

Outside of this small clique the Seanad was greatly in favour of the proposed bill. As I spoke David Norris and Ivana Bacik added their support. I was followed in the debate by the current Minister of Finance, Paschal Donohoe, who said some kind things about my speech.

In the public gallery was the person from the Green Party who had done the most work in bringing Civil Partnership to where it was. Yet to be elected to anything, his commitment and his mastery of detail was vital to bringing Civil Partnership into being.

He is now a member of cabinet. Roderic O’Gorman has become Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. There, I am certain, he will bring an adherence to social justice that will deliver ever more reforming pieces of legislation.

It will undoubtedly be a challenging brief. Nor will it be without controversy. But in Roderic O’Gorman we will have as Minister someone who can point to having already contributed to significant social change in this country.

Within the Green Party his ability, his competence and commitment to social justice has long been known. In recent days he has endured something of a baptism of fire, but he will become stronger for that.

Those of us who know him have an in joke in relation to the affection in which he is held. Perhaps others will get to understand its meaning. It is “In Rod We Trust”.

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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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin after his election in Cork South-Central in General Election 2020; Dan Boyle

I may be imagining this. It certainly isn’t intentional but it probably is sub conscious. The recent representations I have made to my local authority seem to be responded to more quickly, and far more postively. I attribute this to being associated with a political party now a part of government.

This shouldn’t be the case. The extent to which it does is probably reflected in how that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives are given similar deference.

In Cork we don’t know ourselves. The insufferability in which most of the country views us has been given a government seal of approval.

The Dáil constituency I have had the privilege of representing now has three senior government ministers at the cabinet table, including the office of Taoiseach.

It’s a situation that creates unrealistic levels of expectation that can never be met. Whatever resources Cork receives during the period of this government will looked on in the rest of the country as favouritism, even if proportionate.

This expectation is what will inform the sub conscious of the two local government bodies in Cork. Like all city and county councils, the Cork local authorities are over dependent on central government for resources.

Again this shouldn’t be the case. The ability to raise funds and allocate funds, are the ultimate determinants of power and control. Without this ability Irish local government lacks both.

For any government to create a real legacy it could do worse than to let local government free.

Remove the financial ties that bind. Stop local government being beholden to central government. Release the initiative and creativity that would flow once the Customs House would just let local government be.

How ridiculously controlling this relationship has been was brought home to me a number of months ago. The then Department of Children and Youth Affairs gave grants to local authorities for the upkeep of playgrounds.

The playground closest to Cork City Hall was given a grant of €3700. It probably costs more to administer than this grant, than any benefit it would bring about.

The programme for government agreed to bring a new government in being, makes precious little mention of local government reform.

The traditional political parties have shown little interest in bringing such reform about. During my time in public life the movement has been exactly in the opposite direction. Local government has become more centralised, ever more emasculated.

The Progressive Democrats once made the jibe that Ireland was once the most centralised country in Europe outside of Albania. What they meant is that Ireland didn’t encourage the laissez faire capitalism that as a party it preferred.

What they didn’t mean, but where the jibe would have had better effect, is that it could very much be applied to system of Irish local government. Sadly the situation has worsened since then.

My hope is that real local government reform will be a consequence of a government that initially has given it very little consideration. If it does I would be quite happy to be treated, again, with indifference by my local authority.

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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From top: Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan (left) and deputy leader Catherine Martin during the 2020 General Election; Dan Boyle

I have posted my vote.

In my 30 years of public life I have learned that the opportunity to achieve deep change comes about infrequently.  I know others in my party think differently. They are sincere in their beliefs, but I believe are mistaken in their analysis.

To me Climate Justice is Social Justice. Only by being in government can we advance social justice in ways that would not happen were we not to be there.

However much it is presented by some, a programme of government is not of itself, a legal document. It is a prospectus of what an agreed government seeks to bring into being in government.

Policies, goals and objectives that can only come about through approved and passed legislation. Legislation only gets passed by the Oireachtas through a government having a working majority.

You can doubt the trust and sincerity of those agreeing a programme of government, but without a programme and the forming of a government on its basis, no legislative change can occur.

The A Word is featuring strongly in the debate on whether or not The Green Party should enter government. Those advocating a No vote see austerity as a given, if the party participates.  The argument is augmented by stating the proposed programme for government brings this about.

There are many economic tools that can be used to work towards achieving a balanced budget, the last and least of which should be public expenditure cuts. The hope is that sustained increased economic activity continues bringing with it greater tax buoyancy.

This proposed Programme for Government does not promote or encourage austerity. It does the opposite.

We recover. We borrow. We invest. We stimulate. We sustain. If and when a balanced budget is achieved, some tax cuts might be possible, but that won’t be any time soon.

The difference between now and 2008/10 is significant. Then the Eurozone, the European Central Bank and influence of the German government were obsessed with balanced budgets. Now governments throughout Europe will be borrowing to invest to stimulate.

I am certain that the vast majority of people who voted for The Green Party in the general election want the party to be in government, enacting the policies that we Greens have been asking them to support, over the course of many, many elections.

This large majority of Green supporters recognise achievements in the proposed programme for government, while realising that many areas of Green policy are not included.

These supporters also accept that the component parties of this possible government are not naturally aligned.

This support goes beyond Green voters. It can also be seen and heard in the views expressed by environmental NGOs, social justice NGOs, and civil society NGOs. It is repeated by many academics who analyse and write about a wide area of public policy.

As a local public representative I see and hear these views being expressed by community groups, campaigning groups and by people involved in civic life. They largely tell me the same thing. They say we hope you take this opportunity to make a difference.

Today and tomorrow are the likely last days for Green Party members vote on the whether or not to participate in government.

To those who have yet to vote I would ask them to ask themselves one question. What decision on government best represents those who support The Greens?

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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From top: Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan arriving at Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 yesterday; Dan Boyle

Too many in the Irish media attempt to frame political debate rather analyse its complexities, before communicating political positions in their widest context.

This week I listened to hosts of two different programmes on Newstalk read out the same text from a member of the public, one programme for a second time having also done so yesterday. The text was that Bertie Ahern thought The Greens were ‘flaky’.

It seems this was a text of such quality it needed repetition. It was an opinion expressed by Ahern, but the wider context the text sender or the programme makers weren’t prepared to acknowledge was the opinion was expressed before Ahern decided he needed the Greens in government.

The station is also running an online poll on whether The Greens should or should not be in government. Apparently it is unnecessary to ask such questions of other political parties.

Other media outlets have sought to frame the process of government formation in similar terms. The Greens needed to step up to the plate. The Greens needed to be responsible. The Greens needed to realistic in their expectations.

The implied narrative is that The Greens should be compliant. The Greens should know their place. The process is becoming more difficult to achieve because of a lack, on the part of The Greens, to compromise.

By participating in the process The Greens are compromising. By putting aside policy positions knowing they won’t be entertained much less agreed to, The Greens are compromising. By prioritising which policies are more important than others The Greens are compromising.

To start and expect only a partial implementation of policies is compromise by The Greens. There seems a total absence of questioning as to what compromise is being offered by others who seek to participate in government.

For too many media political analysts, even after nearly forty years in existence, the Green Party is seen as being narrow in focus being subsumed with environmental issues, and because of that having little relevance in social or economic policy areas.

Added to this is the constant misrepresentation of what Green Party policies are.

The Green Party does not want to stop road building, it wants to have less spent on new road construction, with more being spent on sustainable transport infrastructure.

Greens do not favour culling the national herd. We want to encourage greater diversity in our agriculture which would decrease our reliance on livestock.

Diversity informs many aspects of Green policy, which seems surprising to some commentators.

Housing policy has to be more than encouraging home ownership provided through the private sector. Social housing needs to be ramped up. Renters need better access and standards.

But apparently Greens are not supposed to know or speak of those things. A

s someone who helped negotiate participation in government in 2007, and helped renegotiate continued participation in 2009. I would always advocate being in government rather than opposition.

However if condescension and misrepresentations is the tone that awaits The Greens being in government, it’s going to prove very difficult for many Green Party members to accept such a fate. Again.

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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From top: Dan Boyle (third row second right) and classmates at Barton School, Chicago, Illinois, USA in 1970; Dan Boyle

I have written before about one of my earliest memories. It was a night of riots in Chicago after the murder of Martin Luther King.

My father had come home with the bashed in windscreen on his car. My parents patiently tried to explain to the five year old me the concepts of anger, of fear, of hate, and how they should be responded to.

As an adult, conversations with my mother have given me a wider context to try and understand the United States, and its society, a place that has played an important role in my family’s story.

She has told me of a visit to New Orleans and her fury at seeing the blacks at the back of the bus rule continue to be enforced.

She told me of a friendship she had with an African American woman who worked with her at a hospital. My Mom invited her to her wedding. She did not accept. “Your friends would not want to see me there,” she said as she declined.

Having liberal parents gave me a particular worldview. I consider it something of a privilege to have spent my early years education in the Chicago public school system. A multi ethnic, multi racial, mixed gender education gave me a later appreciation that the concepts of differece and otherness are very often conceits.

The monochrome, homogenised Irish education system I came into is something I’m still trying to recover from.

In Chicago my parents, in their liberality, would have been atypical in the Irish American community. Then, and thought immutably, Irish Americans were Democrats. My Dad would have been a ward organiser.

Even as a child I would have had an awareness of comments and attitudes that were cold and disparaging towards others. Since then Irish America has drifted towards the Republicans. A direction orginally led by Ronald Reagan to the extent, that now, far too many Irish Americans identify with the misanthrope Trump.

It took centuries for the Irish in America to achieve a better social and economic status. In doing so, many seem to have forgotten the part of their collective history, that was when they were solidly part of the No Irish No Blacks No Dogs category defined by the American establishment.

As the rungs of the social status ladder have been scaled, it sadly seems that the ability to look down on others has been adopted too enthusiastically by those who have once known discrimination, even of a different type and of a far lesser scale.

Here in Ireland we raise our eyebrows at the mythic version of our country many in Irish America seem to have. We should be less gingerly in letting them know that modern Ireland is not how they may want it to be.

Equally we need to be a lot more forthcoming in how their country appears to us. The values of Irish America and Ireland itself are wider apart than they have ever been. We are experiencing different realities that seem to have us living on different planets.

We can look in horror at events as they are in the US, but we should do so wary in the knowledge that there are those in our society who also wish to foster and trade on hate.

We should do so knowing that there are those who are subjects of discrimination within our country, who we are continuing to fail.

What the US has become is what we may yet be, though hopefully not. By talking frankly and working directly with our ever more distant cousins, we may make both our countries better places to be.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

This week I find myself at an old watering hole. I’m not in a position to be indiscreet nor is that my style. My role is background supportive, not centrally placed or intrinsic to anything that is being decided.

It’s good to be back in familiar surroundings. It’s also an antidote to the exclusion that we all have been experiencing. It is a privilege to be able to change locale.

Meeting up with some old familiar faces has also been pleasurable. All of us are weighed down with baggage. Most unable to rise above the labels acquired or often ascribed through a not always fair reputation.

We talk in what some may seem to believe is a honour among thieves way. That is an another unfair, though understandable, representation.

There are rogues, knaves, fools and the occasional demagogue here. For the most part there is decency. If private conversations offer a basic humanity that differs from the public theatrics of antagonism, it is because all need somewhere to be themselves rather than any personae asked of their ever fickle audiences.

There is a sense of these are the circumstances, good fortune with wherever they take us.

For some it will mean greater responsibility but with that the opportunity of being able to make a difference. Others will have a platform of directly observing those who have sought responsibility when they fail at achieving.

While those outside will take satisfaction from the difficulties of those inside, that satisfaction will rarely be laced with malice. All are aware of the there but for the grace circumstances that exist.

Some may choose not to sup from the chalice. Let the chalice pass to others. Let them have the opportunity of failing better they may think.

There is a comfort at never having tried. Perhaps a life spent on the sidelines brings about a different type of expertise, that of a practiced heckler able to raise a laugh, even if rarely capable of winning plaudits.

The intention of most is to test themselves. While most will prefer that the challenges that arise are not too impossible, no one expects that every challenge can be overcome.

And there will be those who presume that failure is the default position that should be attached to every challenge.

Again if failure is your expectation you will rarely be disappointed.

When success is achieved it will rarely compensate for the failures, real and imagined, that have been attributed.

There are never any auditions. There are rarely any rehearsals. Practice may make less imperfect but most will over depend on the impromptu.

Those who succeed better are those who learn that it can’t be all be about them. More success is achieved when more people are involved in the making of decisions; when more are involved in implementing agreed decisions; when most are involved in reviewing the actions that have followed these decisions.

This is the stage that has been chosen. This is the audience that can never be sated. These are the rules of the game. And the game, like the show, must go on.

My visits to the old watering hole will become less frequent. Others will choose whether they want to drink here.

I can recommend the wine.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Pic : Denis Minihane/UCC

From top: St Patrick’s Street, Cork city lockdown; Dan Boyle

I have never been a fan of the phrase ‘every crisis offers an opportunity’. At its heart is a presumption that misery can be justified if it brings about something better.

That should never be the case. What crises do though is make us evaluate the World in which we live. Ideas that once were considered implausible become valid options when contexts get reevaluated after the effects of crises have been felt.

This is the context into which new examinations of how we use our public spaces are now coming forward.

The reduction in road traffic in our town and city centres is reminding us of what might be possible. It confirms, what many of us have long held, that we have been disproportionate in how we have allocated our streetscapes overwhelmingly for the benefit of motor vehicles.

Air quality in all places is immeasurably better. It is giving us a glimpse of a better future.

Contrary to the views of some, those of us who have argued for these changes are not naive. The motor car will make a comeback. Those, who have come to depend on the personal autonomy the car provides, will demand that what they had should be restored.

Arguments will be made that public transport has become compromised, that whatever measures are put in place to maximise safety in its use, will be undermined by a lack of public confidence to use these services, at least in the short term.

That may be but cities throughout the World are aware of these possibilities and are choosing to reimagine their cities anyway. Road space is being reallocated to create wider pavements and pop up cycle lanes. The space for motor vehicles will consequently reduce.

Irish cities are beginning to follow suit. Dublin has put in place several measures to give effect to these ideas. Cork, while yet to physically put in place such measures, has identified several city centre streets for pedestrianisation.

In Cork I have been impressed that the usual negative voices are not as apparent as they had been. The myth that cars equal business thankfully seems to be abating.

Last week a report was released by Transport for London. This analysed the spending patterns of London commuters depending on their chosen transport mode.

The report confirmed what many other international reports had already stated. Cars users spend less than those who walk, cycle or use public transport, in the cities and towns they traverse.

It has been a truism that has taken so long to be accepted as being true.

I’m still expecting the car lobby to lobby to bring back the bad old days. Its affectation of being an industry is going to become quite challenged. Its model of selling as many cars as possible (whether combustion engine or electric) then encouraging consumers to quickly turnover their vehicles, will become less and less viable.

For cities like Cork I am greatly encouraged to think that ideas that have been lying on dusty office shelves, may soon become a reality.

It will be good to see them in operation on our streetscapes, instead of on the pages of those reports that only sad bores like me ever seemed to have read.

This is the most interesting Green news to have come out of Cork this week.

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 Yay Cork

From top: One of 23 buzzards found dead in County Cork, the largest poisoning of birds of prey in the country; Dan Boyle

This week we learned that twenty three buzzards had been poisoned by some person or persons.

When I heard this news it made me feel quite angry. Then I checked myself.

Am I this angry about COVID? Does the existence and persitence of homelessness move me in the same way?

Of course they do. This got me thinking further. Why was I whatabouting myself?

One of the biggest negatives that has come about, in a world where communications are increasingly conducted through social media, has been the avoidance of context or proportionality.

Greens/environmentalists/animal welfare activists regularly get reacted to when they try to raise issues of concern. For some it seems to invoke a whole series of questions they think rhetorical.

Greens particularly get criticised for antropomorphising animals. Sometimes the criticism goes deeper with claims that environmentalists become superantropomorphic by investing in animals qualities that make them more important than humans.

Some may do but that is far from being a fair criticism. Their importance is a mutal importance which is shared with us humans. It is the reason why Greens bang on so much about biodiversity.

The planet we share with other living things works best when nature is balanced and in harmony.

The natural world evolves to achieve ecological balance, sometimes quite brutally. That we have a biodiversity crisis at all is solely down to human interventions.

Often wilfully and certainly indifferent to consequential effects, meeting what we have defined as our needs, we have been the overwhelming source of inputs towards creating the biodiversity crisis.

Someone has decided that the existence of these buzzards was inimical to their well being. They chose to act illegally not only in what they chose to do, but also in how they chose to do so.

The poison chosen, carbofuran, should not be in anyone’s possession. When used with such reckless abandon it threatens all life forms.

I suspect those who undertook this action care little of its effect. They may even think themselves clever that their quarry, being birds, would die at locations distant from where the poison was laid.

They are also most probably very smug, secure in a knowledge that resources to effectively prosecute do not exist.

It was a local farmer who found many of the dead birds. He found the manner of their deaths to have been offensive. He, it was, who informed the authorities of what had happened.

His being offended, his natural display of disgust, is a reminder of the difference between agriculture and agribusiness.  Where your preoccupations centre around yield, the environment in which you operate can easily be seen as an impediment in achieving a somewhat flawed efficiency.

We need to challenge the thinking of some that nature is an enemy.

More importantly we need to acknowlege the cultural aspect of life in agriculture, recognise that for what it is and have it economically rewarded.

However offended I am by the actions of the poisoners, I take greater heart from the disgust of the farmer who has helped bring this cruelty to light.

To rewrite the old song The Farmers and The Greens can be friends.

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 via Irish Raptor Study Group

from top: Co-Leaders of Germany’s Green Party Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock; Dan Boyle

In these trying times social media offers some forms of amusement, as well as many sources of frustration.

A friend on Twitter daily posts stills from classic films he is watching to get him through COVID. He challenges others to identify the film.

I quickly identified The Third Man (1949) as one of the films. I just as quickly let myself down when I identified Berlin as its locale, rather than the more obvious Vienna. I was tired.

Another excuse I would have proffered would be that I have been thinking a lot about Berlin and Vienna in recent times. More particularly about the fortunes of the respective Green parties in the countries of those capital cities.

In Germany, Die Grünen have been the template for the development of green politics throughout the world. There have been peaks and deep troughs in its political development.

At the time of German reunification the party lost all of its Bundestag seats in West Germany. It was thought that the party was not sufficiently identifying with the national mood. Although it was proven right about the economic cost of Helmut Kohl’s Ostmark policy.

Its parliamentary presence was barely maintained through a once off quirk in the German electoral system. This saw its newly acquired East German allies Bündis 90 winning a handful seats. The irony here is that, even thirty years later, East Germany is the part of the country where Green support is weakest.

Eight years later The Greens would not only have a restored presence in the Bundestag, it would be a party of government for the first time. A minority partner to the Social Democrats. It seemed a good fit.

It wasn’t without difficulties. It did manage to get re-elected though. Since 2005 it has been all about Angela Merkel.

Where The Greens in Germany have successfully become embedded is in State (Länder) government. There are sixteen such state governments. In 2020 The Greens find themselves a government party in eleven of these.

It coalesces with every political party in the State, with the exception of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, or the Alternative für Deutschland anywhere.

In one Länder, Baden-Württemberg, The Greens are the main party of government with the Christian Democrats the minority party.

Up until twelve months ago, The Greens seemed on course to become the most popular party in Germany. Since then Angela Merkel has had a significant COVID bounce. Her party, the Christian Democrats, has seen its support increase by over 50%.

Green support has slipped by 10% and is now on a par with that of the Social Democrats. With the impending German general election it seems it will be the choice of the Christian Democrats to decide which party with whom it should be in government.

Up until now the Austrian Greens have not been in government. In 2017 it contrived to almost put itself out of business. A bitter internal feud saw the party lose all its parliamentary seats.

By 2019 it had recovered and reentered parliament. Since January of this year it has been in government with the ÖVP the People’s Party, European allies of Fine Gael and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

The Greens replace, as a junior partner in government, the notorious far right Freedom Party. Since the election Green Party support there has increased. Support for the Freedom Party has nosedived.

Irish politics has become Europeanised. Government formation also needs to be seen in the same context. The quality that is most needed is not so much compatability (although that remains important) but of fluidity.

Being able to respond to circumstances as they are, not as you would prefer they ought to be, is what should inform negotiations, even with those who are not preferred.

In the meantime I’ll try not to mix up Berlin and Vienna again.

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

Reuters

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

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