Author Archives: Dan Boyle

From top: UK Prime Minister Theresa May as England football manager Gareth Southgate in yesterday’s The Sun after comparing her Brexit task to his team’s World Cup ambitions;  Dan Boyle

Whatever about the emotional wrench of supporting an England team during the World Cup, it was an easier leap to accept that with Gareth Southgate as its manager.

The country has as manager of its national team, someone who is decent and likeable, and with whose personality the idea of liking the Sassenach becomes more bearable.

England sees itself in a period redistributive karma at the moment. Its football team is, last night’s semi-final defeat notwithstanding, enjoying its greatest period of success since 1966 (apparently they won something then).

Meanwhile the flames of Brexit continue to engulf the country.

For decades the English football team has been the torch bearer for the irrational exuberance Brexit has come to represent.

England thought itself entitled to win tournaments. Failure was usually put down to cheating foreigners, and/or a World set against the plucky Brits.

The more obvious failings were ignored. The exaggerated ability of players. The inability to blend conflicting egos into a team. The ongoing fantasy that to be the best in the World, required style more than substance.

These fantasies became embedded through a rotten British media that equated sporting endeavour with jingoism. A media whose elevation of the obscure and the bizarre were portrayed as equal elements to the football.

An example of this was the promotion of the WAG culture. The better the ‘bird’ you scored, the better you were perceived as a footballer.

Tired of the fifty years of hurt, the British media turned to Brexit to restore its nostalgia fix. Instead of Britain ruling the waves, we now had cheerleaders for Britain waiving the rules.

A new cast of cosseted foot in the mouth ballers were unveiled – Johnson, Gove, Rees Mogg. While their sexual exploits weren’t being recorded, they were achieving orgasmic delight, with miles of newsprint and mounds of airwaves being expended on their behalf.

Logic, consistency, informed consent were unimportant to this debate. What mattered was that the right boxes were being ticked – sovereignty, getting our country back, control of immigration.

Nor did it matter how this was to be achieved, or what would be the impact from the resultant changes. Two years after the result of the Brexit referendum, and less than nine months away from when leaving the EU is meant to happen, the absurdities of Brexit are continuing to stockpile.

Meanwhile, away from the glare of the spotlight, the English World Cup campaign exceeded expectations. Some encumbrances have been removed. Largely, though, it seems to have been the introduction of real values, inspired by Southgate, that have benefited the team.

Diligence and determination had a far greater effect than the entitlement of old. We should be applauding the endeavour and the absence of hubris.

In the meantime Brexit Britain implodes. David Davis is taking time out to learn about the intricacies. Boris Johnson has left to spend more time with his ego. Others will follow.

Only one man can save England now, and it isn’t the Sam Allardyce-like figure of Jeremy Corbyn.

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

Top pic montage: The Sun

From top: President Michael D. Higgins during the Presidential Inauguration ceremony at Dublin Castle on November 11, 2011 with former Presidents’ Mary Robinson( (left),  Mary McAleese (right) and Leo Varadkar (back far right); Dan Boyle

If a public election is to take place this year for the position of President, it will only be the eighth such election in the eighty year history of the office.

Of our nine Presidents to date three have been appointed without public election. One of those, Patrick Hillery, secured a second term of office without having to undergo public examination.

Two other Presidents, Séan T. O’Kelly and Mary McAleese, rolled over into second terms after securing their first terms through public election.

Only the polarising figure of Éamon de Valera has had to endure public elections to secure his first and second terms of office. His second election was a very tight squeeze, with De Valera winning by a tiny margin of 10000 votes, less than 1% of those who voted.

De Valera was 76 years of age when he first put himself forward for the position of President, a year younger than our current President is now. Of all the inhibiting factors that would question a presidential candidacy, age should be the least of them.

Michael D. Higgins, should he, as appears likely, seek a second term, would face greater criticism for going back on a promise made during the 2011 campaign not to seek re-election if elected.

There should be little concern about this if a public election takes place. The electorate then gets to decide if our President is fit, able and suitable when compared to another candidate of experience and ability.

A public election is best mechanism to achieve this. However, in the absence of alternative candidates who might be seen to do the job as well, there should not be an election for the mere sake of it.

But there should be an election. The need is to encourage a credible candidate to bring such an election about.

I was involved in a similar circumstance in 2004. Mary McAleese would have easily secured re-election had an election had transpired then. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had no appetite for an election. Neither had then Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte, who slapped down Michael D Higgins’ attempts to then to be a candidate.

Into the gap came Eamon Ryan. I became his campaign manager of sorts. There was never any belief that his candidacy would see him end up in the Áras. What was hoped for was an ability to influence a national debate while accruing a creditable vote.

Two factors worked against Eamon then. The first was an interview with Marian Finucane where he candidly admitted he had smoked cannabis, an admission that nowadays wouldn’t cause a ripple.

The second factor was uncertainty Eamon felt that he may not have had the united support of his party, without which a campaign may have floundered. Ironically gaining the required 20 Oireachtas signatures had proceeded more easily and would have been achieved.

And so a Presidential election did not take place in 2004. In 2018 those who have identified themselves as being President electable, are far from that. Would that someone would appear from the outgrowth and provide us with the choice we need.

I’m still likely to vote for Michael D though.

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

Rollingnews

From top: the author as a six-year-old cowboy fan in Chicago, Illinois; Dan Boyle

I must have been five or six years old. My  mother had sent me to my room for having committed some transgression. I was filled with childish fury at the injustice that had been done to me. 

My infantile mind searched for a comeback, finding a word I knew would annoy my Mom. I didn’t know what the word meant, but I did know that by saying it I would get a reaction. It was the N word. Each time she would pass my bedroom door I would open it to bellow my new found mantra.

Living then in Chicago, saw me pick up more than my share of bad habits. At eight years of age, along with other friends, we broke into a neighbour’s house just because we could. 

Living near a open rail line, and hanging off passing trucks, were every day hazards that made my Mother want to move the family to Ireland.

I’ve only returned to Chicago a couple of times. On the first occasion I stayed with friends of my family. They were very kind, and very generous. 

When I expressed a desire to visit my old family home, they became somewhat circumspect. It was dangerous to go there, they claimed, as it now had become a black neighbourhood.

We eventually agreed to drive through the area. What I could see, but what they couldn’t, was that the area had physically improved. What had been a working class Irish American community was now a middle class African American community.

The second time I visited I went on my own, on foot. From the city centre I took the L Line railway system, getting off at the 2nd last stop. I then took a bus for about 14 blocks (a block being about a quarter of a kilometre), walking the the last four blocks.

I found the house pretty easily, the gridiron system being a boon to the easily confused. On the porch sat an African American women. From the sidewalk I preceded to have a surreal conversation with her. “I used to live here” I said. The returned Yank in reverse. She may still look on that encounter with some puzzlement.

Chicago has not had the best of times since then. Violent deaths have been commonplace in the city. Donald Trump highlighted this and made the city an exemplar of all that was wrong with Obama’s America.

In true Trump fashion, his tirades against the city were somewhat lacking in truth. The appalling number of deaths were far from being the worst in the US, and the trend had already begun to fall. 

Trump’s taunts did have an effect, outside of the city, in the rest of the  country. It was calculated at undermining Obama, and by extension Hillary Clinton.

Prior to his becoming a State Senator, quickly followed by being elected to the US Senate, Obama had worked a lot in the Chicago Projects, in those parts of the city where poverty and attendant social problems were most concentrated.

Hillary Clinton also came from Illinois. The two of us were born in the same hospital in Chicago, although not at the same time.

I hope someday to visit Chicago again. It is a great city. Home of The Blues. A great food culture. Brilliant museums and galleries. It’s part of who I am and who I want to be. 

I don’t know when I’ll get to visit, hopefully soon. Hopefully at a time when The Great Moron is no longer casting his malevolence there.

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

From top: Delegates dancing at the close of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall last week; Dan Boyle

A general election wasn’t called this week. It was never likely to be. What we got was product testing by the three larger political groupings, which in some combination or other, will determine the make up of our next government.

The fire drill shenanigans of the past week should be looked on as Pavlovian response measurement of reactions from each respective group of supporters.

The public disdain that each lops onto their competitor parties, is the Irish political equivalent of dog whistling, where supporters hear the well worn tropes of old, but the wider and alternative meanings are meant to be understood.

At this remove these are the possible formations of future government.

1. A continuation of Fine Gael minority government – bolstered by independent/ smaller party support, kept afloat by another confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil;

2. Fianna Fáil swopping places with Fine Gael on which is the lead party of government, and which is the somewhat confident supplier;

3. An FF/FG Grand Coalition. The most feasible in terms of policy alignment, but sadly also the least likely outcome;

4. Sinn Féin coalescing with Fine Gael. This isn’t as fantastic as it might seem, but it remains an unlikely outcome. The recent eyelash fluttering between the two shouldn’t be seen as in any way being a sincere attempt at negotiating with each other. More likely it is about attempts by either to ingratiate their respective support bases; and

5. A FF/SF coalition. This is the most likely alternative to the current arrangement. Not because of any shared attachment to ‘republican’ ideals, nor to any sense of policy coherence. Both parties being malleable on the idea of policy, is the very reason why such an arrangement could work.

Fine Gael talks up Sinn Féin in order to do down Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil talks down Sinn Féin in order to protect what it sees as its pre-eminence in challenging and surpassing Fine Gael as the presumed party of government. Sinn Féin talks itself up to encourage its sense of wanting to be part of a government of equals.

We may be entering a period in Irish politics where the three parties perform like the competing empires of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia in George Orwell’s ‘1984’, coupling and decoupling to take on the discarded party at any given time.

The current narrative sees FF and FG ganging up on Sinn Féin, stating that they do not believe it to be a suitable party of government. They say this knowing that they may yet have to consider being in government with Sinn Féin.

The intent is not to shut the door on SF, the hope is that party’s support can be deflated, so that if and when the party does enter government it does so on the weakest possible basis.

This strategy may be having the opposite effect in maximising SF support levels. It may be better to talk up the prospects of Sinn Féin as a party of government.

A different strategy would be to play on Sinn Féin’s inexperience of government. Even in Northern Ireland Sinn Féin has not experienced government. The party has been part of a number of administrations there that haven’t had any responsibility in areas like taxation and welfare policy, areas that are key to the practice of government.

For its part SF needs to factor in the likelihood that being in, or being associated with fully fledged government, will lead to a diminution of its support.

Having successfully heightened its support levels over a relatively short period of time, Sinn Féin will see that support being tested, as and when it enters government.

For my part, being associated with a political party that fishes for votes among the one in four voters who want nothing to do with any of these three parties, I regret this likely consolidation of Irish politics.

I would be confident that Green support will strengthen in this more shallow pool of votes, and that a possibility exists that the party may be sought as a make weight in a minority government. Our inclination would be to continue to want to be part of government. However we should think carefully before deciding to do so.

So should Sinn Féin.

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

Rollingnews

From top: construction work in April on the Elsmore housing estate at Naas Co Kildare which includes social housing; Dan Boyle

One of the favourite jobs I have had, now reduced to a single line reference on my CV, was three years I spent as the manager of a Housing Co-op in Cork.

The Co-op, as well as seeking to meet housing need, took a particular interest in sourcing neglected buildings of architectural interest. This project operated in a barracks square that had once been an arsenal. A subsequent project brought back into use the re-development of seventeenth century almshouses in Cork city centre.

Another goal of the Co-op was an emphasis in housing allocation that sought to develop a concept of community.

Of the eight units I managed, two single men had apartments. One was a wheelchair user, a Paralympic sailor. The other was a leading light in Cork’s Gay community, and also the main mover in this and several other co-ops in the city.

A pensioner couple occupied another unit. A family with teenage children contrasted with a two sets of couples with young children. A couple without children and a single parent family made up the complement.

While this come may across as the casting of a TV reality show by a production team that think themselves really clever, the actual reality was the variety of tenants helped bring about a real, cohesive sense of community.

Voluntary housing, like this, has been and remains the spare wheel of Irish housing policy. As far as successive governments, and state agencies, have been concerned, it has been known that the voluntary housing option existed, that very occasionally use has been made of the option, but it really it has been preferred not to use the option at all.

Throughout Europe voluntary housing represents a far higher percentage of housing stock than it does in Ireland. The reason why is obvious. In other countries housing policy is more holistic in approach. In Ireland policy is viewed though a very narrow prism.

Land, castles and profit is the Trinity that informs Irish housing policy. The desire to own, inculcated in the Irish psyche since the days of the Land League in the 19th century, has long passed its passion as the weapon to achieve a more equal society, to now being one of the instruments that is bringing about greater inequality.

Social housing gets a bad rap. Our main party of government seems to have a particular allergic reaction to the concept. This has probably been informed by attitudes shown by radio show text responders, whenever the subject gets mentioned.

Why should some people get houses for ‘free’ when I work hard to pay my mortgage – is a view that constantly gets aired. Such reductionist views conveniently ignore that those in social housing don’t get to own their homes.

Those who who buy houses acquire guaranteed long term appreciating assets. This on its own is one of the biggest factors in a widening wealth gap, generational in nature with an older generation owning, and a younger generation finding it impossible to own.

Only an ambitious social housing programme, State funded, and managed by local authorities and voluntary agencies, can kick start supply, reduce costs (especially social costs) and especially bring about a community approach to housing allocation, we have so sorely lacked to date.

Instead this government will continue to put its faith in the Construction Industry Federation, and with them a belief that the market will solve everything. It won’t. Some will become even more wealthy. Most will find it ever more difficult to be housed.

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

Rollingnews

From top: protests in Carragiline, County Cork ahead of oral hearings into the proposed incinerator in 2016; Dan Boyle

Recently the twelfth deferral of a decision took place, on whether Bord Pleanala would make public its decision on whether or not it would approve its decision to grant permission for a toxic waste incinerator for Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour.

That deferral happened on May 25, the day of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment to The Constitution. In PR terms it was a clear attempt to present bad news when thoughts were elsewhere.

There wasn’t too long to wait for the next possible opportunity, the Thursday before the bank holiday weekend. It was the expected bad news.

The reason for the previous 11 deferments, in the 27 months since the holding of a public oral hearing, being the inability of Bord Pleanala to spin its decision on planning grounds.

In the 18 years since this proposal was first mooted, this was the fourth planning process. The previous three applications also resulted in public oral hearings. A fifth oral hearing took place over the question of granting an EPA pollution licence, which illogically but unsurprisingly was heard first.

In the three of the four planning oral hearings, the appointed planning inspector recommended that the application be refused.

There are, and always have been strong planning grounds, to refuse this application. The proposed site is subject to both flooding and coastal erosion. At the most recent hearing the Defence Forces argued that the plumes from the incinerators would impact on the navigation of helicopters in and out of Haulbowline Naval Base.

The other telling feature of the most recent oral hearing was the proposing applicant, Indaver, being called out by the planning inspector for having presented falsified figures.

The successive public hearings have shown that is not even a pretense that consultation on the issue of planning exists. Bord Pleanala is now not pretending it is deciding on planning grounds. The reasons it gave for its decision was EU and Irish government ‘policy’.

Mention of EU policy is overblown. Incineration, even under its pseudonyms of ‘thermal treatment’ and ‘waste to energy’, is well down the pecking order in terms of the EU Waste Directive. It is seen as a diminishing and inefficient technology, one of the most expensive and dirty means of producing energy.

What Bord Pleanala is really saying with this decision is that incineration is Irish government policy.

When the Tánaiste, and local TD, Simon Coveney, says he is disappointed in this decision he is the person who is best positioned to do something about this.

He could start by re-introducing an incineration levy, designed to measure the true environmental cost of incineration co-inciding with an existing landfill levy. The emphasis in waste policy must be in reducing the creation of unnecessary waste, while also promoting the greatest possible take up of Recycling. Incineration discourages both.

Opposition to this facility is as far from NIMBY as it is possible to be. For almost half a century the village of Ringaskiddy has been an industrial sacrifice area.

The community has already taken on more than its fair share. It should not have to take a puff of smoke more.

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

Top pic: Mother Jones Cork

From top: Thousands returned home to vote in last week’s referendum: Dan Boyle

There’s a huge temptation to read too much significance into the results of the Repeal the Eighth referendum. However, as giving into temptation is pretty much what we do these days, I will stand first in line in the queue for Bishop Kevin Doran’s confessional, to ask what I see as some pertinent questions.

The first is whether our Constitution continues to be fit for purpose. There is a slew of proposals that have come from the Citizens’ Assembly that deserve, even demand, answering.

As I was a one time member of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on The Constitution, there are plenty dusty reports on a shelf somewhere that contain many similar, good, recommendations.

Given the scale of change being suggested, would this demand best be met through drafting a new Constitution?

I think probably not. It would be a mistake to assume that largely the same coalition of voters will fall in line for every subsequent proposed change.

Besides, outside of some glaring provisions, Bunreacht na hÉireann is not such a bad document. It is progressive in many respects, let down by the inclusion of some provisions included to placate those who were once given too much deference in our country.

Before considering the architecture of our Constitution should we not be asking who The Constitution is for?

The image of returning emigrants, during the last two referenda, fed into a change is possible narrative. It was an encouraging narrative fuelled by thousands of inspiring images. Given the scale of the victory margin in each referendum their presence wasn’t strictly needed, although their visual support was vital.

Technically many of these were illegal votes, as some of the people involved didn’t fulfil the necessary residency requirements. Shouldn’t these provisions be the next legislative/constitutional changes to be considered?

Irish citizens should have a right to engage in these discussions, and then act upon, any change mooted in our Constitution, from wherever on the planet they find themselves at any given time.

Such a change would present a huge logistical challenge. More Irish citizens live outside our State than within it. Some may never have physically lived here. Of those who did emigrate, the longer the time away the further will be the ability to know and understand our country as it is today. Those Irish citizens who voted for Donald Trump could be contributing to shaping a very different Ireland in the future.

And yet these provisions seem to operate without much difficulty in other countries.

With an appropriate time stipulation, say no more than five/ten years living outside the State, any Irish citizen should be able to register and vote at their nearest embassy/consulate.

This should give a right to vote on The Constitution, vote for their choice as our first citizen, and possibly even for emigrant representation in the Seanad. I think that most would agree that the taxation/representation axis will continue to hold true for elections to Dáil Éireann.

We need to do is better recognise our history as a migrant nation, while attempting to hold on to the link that binds together our citizens throughout the World.

I believe we could hold a civilised debate on this subject. That is if you ignore the fact that I make this argument as something of a Trojan Horse, being more eager to revisit the 27th amendment to the Constitution on Citizenship made in 2004.

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

Pic: HAWK

From top: Anti-divorce rally in Dublin, 1996; Dan Boyle

I got married on the first day of June in 1987. A friend of ours was convinced I had contrived the date. Knowing me to be a massive Beatles fan, he believed I had picked the 20th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Peppers, so I would have the wedding coincide with the opening line of the opening song on that album. He was wrong. I was not that clever. I still am not.

A more poignant time for us to observe would have been the events of June 1986, then nearly twelve months previously.

That was when the first attempt to remove the constitutional bar on divorce was made. It failed ignominiously. It was such a failure that almost two in every three of those who voted insisted that the constitutional bar remain.

We were relatively young. Itself a factor on how our lives transpired. I was twenty four years of age, she was twenty two. The first in our peer group to make this commitment.

Together we never thought we were entering into a constitutional straitjacket. In Corkspeak we were mad about each other. We cared deeply for each other. I like to think we still do.

The mood music from 1986 continued to prevail. It would maintain its effect until in 1995, when the same exaggerated argument, the same reductio ad absurdum comparisons were made, almost managing to persuade again.

Myles na gCopaleen would have had a field day with these arguments. I would have loved to hear his take on that much feared monster, the ‘Floodgates’. The opening of these fabled gates which would wreak havoc upon the fabric of Irish society we were told.

Ireland, it was said, would soon match our amoral cousins in the US and the UK in adopting a frivolous attitude towards the institution and commitment that is Marriage.

It never turned out that way.

For every relationship that descended into ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ theatrics of name calling and plate throwing there were half a dozen other relationships which slowly disintegrated due to the two people involved wanting to live other lives.

Such was our story. We divorced in 2014. We would be grateful, that having come late to the concept of divorce, Ireland would develop a model that would be far more humane but that never overwhelmed.

No fault divorce is more aligned to reality of most relationships that have run their course. Responsibility though is different from blame. I accept responsibility for making choices that meant I wasn’t there when, and as often, as I should have been.

Divorce Irish-style has not meant that ending a relationship means a rejection of all that was good within it. I’m proud of what my then wife has since achieved (a doctorate from Cambridge no less!). I’m happy she has found happiness with someone else.

In a few short weeks our daughter will, hopefully, give birth to a second child. Our hopes for her have been that she would enjoy more choice in life than we enjoyed. We hope her children can enjoy that and more.

I offer our family story as a parable. On Friday we will be revisiting a question that has bedevilled Irish society for the best part of half a century. The same risible arguments will be made about the end of life as we know it.

Ignore them. Abortion Irish-style can be a more kind and gentle approach than anything we’ve experienced before. It is time to wrench the clenched fingers from our basic law. We can sculpt a better Ireland away from our doomsayers and hypocrites.

Change is possible. Change is necessary. Change is now. Vote Yes. You know you really want to.

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

Rollingnews

 

From top: O’Connell Street, Dublin on Tuesday night following the deaths of protestors in Gaza; Dan Boyle

I have come to the conclusion that I must be something of an anti-Semite. It is a difficult thing to define. Most dictionaries describe Semite as a grouping of languages from the Middle East, spoken by now long disappeared peoples such as the Phoenicians and the Canaanites. In the present day largely only Hebrew and Arabic survive.

While I have no animus against these historic cultures, it seems that the evolution of anti-semitism has become directed solely at one linguistic group and their faith/belief system.

There can be no doubt that, despite having contributed positively, and hugely out of proportion to their numbers, to global culture and history, the Jewish people have seen their fate to have become the most demonised, prejudiced against, and persecuted of people.

In the period of World history that has been dominated by adherents of Christianity, Jewdom has been horribly discriminated against. Culminating in the unforgivable and unforgiving Holocaust of the Second World War.

A level of Christian guilt saw the making of The Balfour Declaration of 1917. This was a well-intentioned initiative in recognising the need for a Jewish State. Once put in place after the Second World War, its application to address a colossal, horrendous wrong, created a whole new series of further wrongs, now against the existing inhabitants of Palestine. The British brilliance with borders reached new heights here.

The basis of any religion is that its adherents are a chosen/special people. The fervency of such beliefs when linked to a national identity is a particularly potent mix.

That said the emerging State of Israel came through its beleaguered beginnings, when all around it sought to prevent its establishment, with additional strength. The new State sought to be more democratic and somewhat more diverse than its neighbouring countries. Credit should also given to the level of innovation that was created in the new State, in the least auspicious of circumstances.

However, somewhere along the line the justified sense of siege felt by Israelis has been transformed in hubris. Going beyond thinking themselves as ‘God’s Chosen People’, they began to see other people, with whom they shared the same space, as a sub species. Creatures to be corralled, caged, interned, interred, kicked and spat upon. All in the name of National Security.

This term has replaced patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. Any angry waving of arms, or throwing of sticks and stones, provokes a ‘justified’ shoot to kill response from those with the superior technology and weaponry. When the opposing arsenal includes Swiss Army knives and Molotov cocktails, an even more vicious response is evoked.

Any criticism of this is refuted not as being an expression of revulsion, but as an extension of an age old sectarianism, irrationally and hatefully aimed towards Jews and Jewishness.

Questioning the actions of the Israeli State through its government, now apparently, constitutes the height of prejudice.

This redefinition has passed many of us by. Nonetheless some of us must now redefine ourselves, through our audacity in calling out murder is as murder does, as being anti-Semites.

We inhabit the same space as the Ku Klux Klan and the most crazed of Islamic fundamentalists. In the Middle East there can be no nuance. Only the righteous can prevail.

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

Rollingnews

From top: From January 2010, then Minister of Health Mary Harney (left) and then CEO of the National Cancer Screening Service, Tony O’Brien, announcing  plans to establish a national colorectal screening service; Dan Boyle

A secondary issue of concern that seems to have arisen, and has gone on to be sidelined, from the CervicalCheck scandal, has been the extent that the career progression of the HSE’s Tony O’Brien is being facilitated by the government on behalf of the State.

In more progressive jurisdictions legislation exists that insists on cooling off periods (of at least two year’s duration) that should apply to retiring government ministers, senior civil servants, and higher executives of State agencies, before taking up private sector employment in areas that were parallel to their decision making roles.

The prestigious appointments that often follows these public sector departures are usually spun as the head hunting of people of unique ability. Sometimes a nod is made towards the unique experience that these sage public servants hold.

While it would be churlish not to admit that for many in this situation, who find themselves in demand, some degree of experience and ability does exist; it would be equally churlish not to accept that many are being chosen for who rather than what they know.

The recent to do surrounding Communications Minister, Denis Naughton, saw very little media analysis of the lobbyist who had compromised the Minister.

As a previous head of the Government Information Service, under two Taoisigh – Brian Cowen and Enda Kenny, Eoin O’Neachtáin had established an access network few could lay claim to.

The most recent Chief Executive of the National Treasury Management agency, John Corrigan, took up a position as Chair of Davy Stockbrokers, eight months after his public sector retirement.

In January 2011, Mary Harney resigned as Minister for Health and Children. By the end of 2012 she had joined the boards of one healthcare start-up and and a multi-national pharmaceutical concern in India.

The acceptance of such positions is not illegal and for the most part should be not be taken as being automatically ethically suspect. However they are compromising. They should not be seen as being seamless or easy.

The indifference towards producing binding legislation on cooling off periods, is now being more contemptuous that post public sector career opportunities should be directly facilitated.

Tony O’Brien seems to have been allowed by An Taoiseach and the Minister for Health, to begin a lucratively paid internship with a US pharmaceutical company, while continuing his role it what is meant to be one of the most important, and absorbing, public sector positions in Ireland.

Aside from bringing in the idea that such an important role can be undertaken on a part time basis, the direct conflict of running a health service which exists to promote lower costing and more generic drugs, with company which exists to bring about an opposite set of circumstances, is surely a tolerance too far.

This is happening because of the political choices being made by An Taoiseach and the Minister for Health. Choices that are taking us very much in the wrong direction on the wrong road in this area of policy.

Given their relative youth, they couldn’t possibly be thinking of their own future career prospects. Could they?

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

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