Tag Archives: Dan Boyle

From top: then Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny and then Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fail Bertie Ahern in the RTÉ Prime Time studio for the General Election 2007 TV Debate, May 18, 2007; Dan Boyle

Head to head debates during election campaigns rarely have the consequences they are portrayed as having. The format is unsuitable for the collective short term attention span we have evolved in having.

The winning is in perception, often informed by the superficial, and when it is by anything said it is by the glib soundbite than by any profound truth spoken.

The Kennedy/Nixon debate in 1960 launched the template of modern political intercourse, a template that has barely altered since.

Kennedy was deemed to have won the debate by virtue of appearing younger and more vibrant. Those who listened to the debate on radio, where greater consideration could be given to tone and content, marked the debate a draw.

Since then most set pieces seem to have become reduced to an incessant search for a zinger. The telling phrase, as short as possible and easily remembered.

Even when achieved they often have little effect on the eventual outcome.

When Lloyd Bentsen put down the embarrassingly ineffectual Dan Quayle in 1988, it didn’t stop George Bush Snr. becoming US President, nor Quayle his Vice President.

If the format has varied very little and its effect has been largely oversold, there have been examples when changing numbers taking part in a debate has had some effect.

In the US in 1992 and the UK in 2010 the introduction of third candidates did seem to affect voter behaviour.

Ross Perot and Nick Clegg took advantage of their participation in debates to gain greater support for their political platforms.

What third candidate participation achieved after these debates was not the breakthrough of a competing ideology, rather it identified a receptacle for the plague on both your houses vote.

While both Perot and Clegg achieved significant votes, because of the electoral college in the US, and first past the post in the UK, neither achieved an impact their votes would have had under a more proportionate system.

The history of head to head candidate debates in Ireland has hardly been littered with stellar moments. Because of that it can’t be claimed that such debates have been campaign defining or changing.

The last such significant debate was held between Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny in the general election campaign of 2007. Neither had ever had been thought of as skilled debaters. Those expectations were met.

Modern politics has ‘developed’ to such an extent that, through an army of consultants and advisors, image has become paramount; content a potential trip zone.

If the main protagonists look the same, sound the same, behave the same and largely believe in the same things; how are they meant to be differentiated?

In the Ahern/Kenny 2007 debate Ahern was perceived to have had won because he was thought to be the more competent manager. Managing to keep a smooth running economy perform to expectation. That was what it was thought the electorate wanted.

Ironic I know.

We learn little from these debates. At best they confirm whether momemtum exists and can be sustained.

Despite protestations during every election campaign that many voters have yet to make up their minds up, most have. It is thought that on election day of those who vote, eighty per cent of those voters vote as they would do on day one of an election campaign.

Except under our system it is how votes subsequently transfer that determines the third, fourth and fifth seats in most constituencies. That is well worth continuing to argue over.

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


From top: Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin (left) with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (centre) and Senator Pippa Hackett at the Royal Society of Antiquaries Ireland Dublin for the Green Party General Election Campaign Launch yesterday; Dan Boyle

For the first time in my political life I find myself involved in a general election, where I am still very much emotionally invested, if not psychologically so.

In 2016 I was lucky to have had the distraction of working in Wales to help me to avoid sulking at not being on a ballot paper for the first time in twenty five years.

Like all Greens I was pleased to see the party move towards recovery. On my return from Wales I re-engaged to play my own, small, part in taking the party’s recovery further.

The local and Election results in 2019 were truly astounding. No one was more surprised than me.

Success brings its own problems. Among those being how to manage expectation. We know from experience that Irish voters have been more inclined to vote Green in local and European elections than in general elections. There is a hope that this may not be the case this time.

I’m so glad not to be a candidate on this occasion. I’m not saying that should the circumstances have demanded it I would not have stepped into the breach, but I would have done so with less enthusiasm or energy.

Having someone of great ability, and with a far stronger skill set, to be there instead is a source of great relief to me.

Being a candidate, seeking to represent any party or none, is hard. It places huge constraints upon your personal time and resources. It turns you into a paranoic, not knowing whether you are behaving, speaking or doing anything that would make any voter think less kindly of you.

In a smaller party there is certainly some licence to be associated with some beliefs or values. However the Irish political system has been dominated by catch all parties that seek to be everything to everyone at all times. Every deviation from the norm is punished.

Whether we have a new politics, or have finally rid ourselves of civil war politics, may be what this general election helps us resolve. Or maybe not.

It is our fifth general election of the twenty first century. A trend can be identified where the old order, if it hasn’t actually collapsed has certainly been significantly chipped away at.

Its diminution has created a chasm that has yet to be filled. Than is unlikely to be closed after this vote, which will be another transition election.

My preference has always been for evolution rather than revolution. For some, even within my own party, this puts me into a category of being ideologically impure. But I am old and I have heard these arguments many, many times before.

I’ve learned that it is possible to be pragmatic while seeking radical change. Where progressives have failed in the past has been the desire to achieve all necessary change immediately. The failure to prioritise through agreeing what can be done when and how, has in the past delayed change.

I envy the passion of those coming through. The confidence of certainty can sustain such passion to help bring about change. Making that change last. Making it real. Making it help fuel future change is the challenge of the next generation.

They might think about those of us who have tried while they are doing so.

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


From top: Bishop of Cork & Ross John Buckley (holding cross), taking part in the Eucharistic Procession in Cork city last Summer; Dan Boyle

One of the more pleasurable aspects of being back in City Hall is being asked, occasionally, to deputise for the Lord Mayor. It’s always an honour to be asked.

The last time l had the opportunity was to celebrate the last day of Hanukkah while presiding at an art installation at Shalom Park, then inviting those attending, members of Cork’s Jewish community, back for refreshments.

At City Hall, as well as the lighting menorahs, two musicians armed with a fiddle and an accordion played Yiddish folk tunes.

The uber liberal in me fleetingly wondered if religion should be civicly endorsed like this. Of course it should, answering my own question. This is a celebration of community not doctrine.
Cork City Council organises similar events for other religious events like Eid and Diwali.

The Christian churches also get included. Our national holiday is a celebration of a Christian saint. In Cork members of the Council start the day by attending services at the Church of Ireland and Catholic cathedrals. Truth to tell I prefer the service at Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral It has a less going though the motions feel.

Less acceptable has been the tradition of City Council participation in the annual Eucharistic Procession. Historically this was once a massively attended event with tens of thousands participating. Then it might have seemed politic for city councillors to take part.

These days the crowds are much reduced, as are the number of councillors who turn up. Time perhaps to delink the civic presence with this event.

Because the events of religious communities occur at different times of year, it is important that the State takes time to acknowledge these events as occasions of importance for the communities concerned. As celebrations of diversity they give hope that what is different can also be good.

It isn’t religious events that threaten secularism, the bigger threat is found with religious symbols, or more particularly their permanence.

Lighting menorahs in City Hall is a fleeting thing. Even cribs in public buildings over the Christmas period should cause no offence.

However our council chamber, like the chambers of many local authorities throughout Ireland, permanently displays a crucifix. While it is an important and evocative symbol of christendom, it should not be on permanent display in a civic building.

I have no intention of seeking its removal. There are many issues that are far more important to me. What I hope might happen is that other council members would begin to realise that this doesn’t fit and that we should end this practice.

It’s a fine line but it is one we are addressing better than we have been. More appropriate relations between faith and State are still to be determined. We need at least to believe they can be different.

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 EchoLive

From top: The River Lee at Cork city centre. Air quality in Cork city is currently one of the worst in Europe.; Dan Boyle

It was twenty five years ago. I was a candidate for a by-election and had been campaigning to extend the bituminous coal ban, which had been in existence for a number of years in Dublin, to Cork City.

John Gormley had been very involved in the earlier Dublin campaign, which eventually saw Mary Harney legislate for a smoke free zone in Dublin.

Smog Free Cork was established to extend the legislation. As a local councillor I supported this goal.

The by-election was held in November. Temperatures dropped with chimneys chiming their bilious smoke. Inversion in the valley of the city magnified the effect.

During the campaign the then Minister for the Environment, Michael Smith, announced that Cork City would also be covered by the bituminous coal ban. Hoping I suspect for the type of kudos won by Mary Harney.

It wasn’t good enough for me. I had always thought that the initial, and subsequent bans, being based on the sale but not on the use of bituminous coal, could not be effective.

In Cork this meant coal could be bought two miles outside the ban zone, and then be burned with impunity. This was true of all subsequent extensions of the ban to other urban areas.

Our current government had been committed to introducing a nationwide wide ban, the only way to make sense of a sales ban.

However under pressure from coal distributors that they would legally contest such an order on restraint of trade grounds, the government has relented.

This weekend our Minister of the moment has announced a further extension of the ban to all urban areas with populations over ten thousand people. Another absolute cop out.

That this government is reluctant to regulate any market has never been a surprise. That it is failing to do so now sees it veering into the territory of negligence.

In recent months Cork has been experiencing some of the worst recorded air pollution in Europe.

There is an irony in this. This has coincided with a trial that Cork City Council has been undertaking in conjunction with University College Cork.

This has seen an increase in monitoring stations throughout the city, along with more pollutants being measured. The irony being that the more we monitor our air quality the more polluted we are discovering it is.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the official air monitoring in the city. What this trial is revealing is that we have too few monitoring stations and that they are badly located. The same is probably true throughout the country.

To be fair the science and technology of all this is difficult to keep up with. We are learning more about which pollutants that are most damaging and at what concentrations. Technology is helping us measure these risks more accurately.

Domestic fires represent only part of the risk to our air quality. The expediential growth of vehicular traffic represents another significant area of risk. All we have succeeded in doing with much our new road infrastructure has been to move air pollution pinch points to new locations.

The biggest failure has been any real, sincere attempt to address fuel poverty. Our poorest households continue to rely on the least expensive, least heat efficient fuels.

Without massive retrofitting we will to condemn those with least to suffer the highest concentration of air pollution. Reducing the need of many to get up early in the morning….

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

The street named after Cork Lord Mayor Tomás MacCurtain, killed by the RIC during the War of Independence. (right) lies in the city’s so-called ‘Victorian Quarter’; Dan Boyle

I had the privilege this week of seeing the excellent Paul Brady. The highpoint was a moving rendition of his song ‘The Island‘. I was particularly taken with the line, “Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone”.

At the most recent Cork City Council meeting a discussion occurred about Cork’s imminent entry into the national decade of commemorations.

1920 was the year where Cork became the epicentre of the story of Ireland. Much of the narrative revolved around the two martyred (Lord) Mayors, MacCurtain and MacSwiney. They were two of the four men who held the office that year.

The year was to end with the evident war crime that was the burning of Cork’s city centre.

Cork City Council has been discussing how these events should be marked. Obviously they should be, but also in a context where what wasn’t talked about then and hasn’t been talked about since, can be addressed openly now.

The obvious omission has been the role of women in the War of Independence, or indeed with the development of the State since.

At least in committee the City Council has been trying to construct a programme of events that could be put in place that address such omissions and carry an awareness of sensitivities.

That had been the hope.

Last Monday’s public city council meeting descended into farce, as councillors sought to out-republicanise each other.

Greatest umbrage was being taken at the branding of a part of the city as the Victorian Quarter. It’s a branding that I have been somewhat indifferent too, although it doesn’t offend me.

The branding has certainly offended some on Cork City Council. They see it as being acceptance of everything and anything her name has ever been associated with.

From Famine Queen to arbiter of social mores to being Empress of India, the very existence of a Victorian Quarter in Cork is seen as a confirmation of an anglocentric view of history.

But it really isn’t. In the case of Cork it highlights a collection of buildings whose architectural sense can be described as Victorian.

My fear is that a year of commemoration, that can be and should be dignified, will instead be open to hundreds of reinterpretations, all based on offence.

What the decade of commemorations has succeeded in doing has been to help us understand that there is no single, definitive version of Irish history.

Not only are there nuances, we should also be more understanding in realising that the same set of circumstances can be looked at differently through different perspectives.

Through knowledge of complexities we can begin to understand. It is more of a loosening rather than a letting go. Both being difficult in the context of Irish history.

We need to get away from a my history right or wrong approach as quickly as possible. It is the important next step in our maturing as a country.

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

From top: Fine Gael’s Dara Murphy after retaining his seat in the Cork North Central constituency at the 2016 General Election; Dan Boyle

I was in Leinster House when Dara Murphy was coming through Cork City Council. I had left the Oireachtas while he became a Minister of State with responsibility for Europe.

I thought he had done a good job as Lord Mayor of Cork. I felt that in the Dáil he had been over-promoted, something the current Taoiseach seems to have agreed with.

He achieved a degree of notoriety when he insisted that a Garda patrol car drive him from Cork to Dublin, when his own car had broken down.

His political timing had been impeccable. Within months of ending his term of office as Lord Mayor, the 2011 general election also saw the retirement of long time and popular Fine Gael flag bearer, Bernard Allen.

His became the more obvious name for the Fine Gael seat in Cork North Central. When he failed to be reappointed as Minister of State he seemed to go into something of a funk.

Nevertheless he had used his European brief to impress someone in the European People’s Party of his otherwise not very obvious abilities.

The EPP the political home of Berlusconi and Orbán. The umbrella group of the right and the centre right political parties in Europe. It must take a particular type of charm to succeed in the EPP.

Such charm allowed Dara become an EPP director of elections for the 2019 European Elections. In those elections the EPP lost seats.

This must have especially annoyed the appointed leader of the group, Germany’s Manfred Weber, who up until then had been considered a shoe in to become the next President of the European Commission.

Despite this, Dara’s now legendary European charm has seen him parlay himself into another job. This time with the European Commission. Fair play to him I say, even if he risks becoming identified as a political manifestation of the Peter Principle.

Ostensibly since 2017 Dara Murphy has been largely absent without leave from the public office to which he had been entrusted.

For this period of double jobbing he seems to have had the tacit approval of the Fine Gael leadership. Beleaguered Eoghan Murphy has said that Dara Murphy’s EPP position was a more important job!

Dara Murphy certainly must have had the co-operation if not the collusion of the Fine Gael whips office. In a minority government his regular absences would have had to be accounted for somehow.

His viewing of his elected position, along with the endorsement of his party colleagues, as a secondary position, has been a calculated insult to the body politic.

His siphoning off of all available moneys associated with his position as a Teachta Dála, without accompanying effort, has to be seen as an obscenity.

Through the years our paths have intersected though we have taken wildly different journeys. If success is measured by the pay cheque that pertains to the position, then I will gladly admit defeat.

His is a road I wouldn’t want to travel on. It is a moral cul de sac.

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 The Echo

From top Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing with Fine Gael by-election candidate Verona Murphy in Wexford town; Dan Boyle

Recent Dáil by-elections have tended to be coupled. We have to go back to 1952 to see more than two by-elections held on the same day.

In 1945 five by-elections were held, a housekeeping exercise after travel restrictions from ‘The Emergency’ were lifted.

The largest number of by-elections on one day was in 1925, for seven constituencies to fill nine vacancies than resulted from that number of Cumann na nGaedheal TDs resigning in protest at its government handling of an army mutiny.

The nine loosely formed a political party, the National Party, although only one of these nine contested the by-election, and that was in a constituency he hadn’t previously represented.

For the most part, and particularly in the early life of the State, single seat by elections have favoured Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael candidates.

By elections became the main vehicle for entrenching the hereditary principle of wives/sons/daughters assuming seats.

Only in recent years have these patterns begun to change.

The holding of a number of by elections simultaneously sometimes gets referred to as being a mini general election. They rarely are.

On occasions they can be. Clann na Poblachta won two by elections on the one day in 1947, announcing its arrival as a potent new force. While the party would go on to win a third by election, it was to prove a false dawn.

When Jack Lynch lost two by elections in Cork, in 1979, it brought to an end his time as Taoiseach. That indirectly led to his replacement by Charles Haughey.

As it happens Haughey had been unsuccessful in a by election in 1954, when the son of the long sitting TD, Alfie Byrne, had the better of him.

It could be said that Pearse Doherty’s 2010 victory, Sinn Féin’s only such by election win, hastened the end of the Fianna Fáil/Green government. Although by then that end had already been well and truly hastened.

Most by elections can’t be extrapolated onto a national political picture. Turnout is lower than in general elections. Local issues tend to muddy the waters. The electorate tends to make collective calculations on which of two or three candidates are in the strongest position to challenge.

Just like football teams that specialise in cup or league competitions, less traditional political parties have begun to specialise in by elections.

In recent years the Socialist Party, in various guises, has won two by elections. During its brief lifespan the Democratic Left also won twice.

The Progressive Democrats never won a by election, although its founder Dessie O’Malley came into politics via a by election as a Fianna Fáil candidate.

The Green Party has yet to win a by election. I’m hoping this might change this weekend. I have a selfish reason for wanting that to happen. I am the best performing Green Party by election candidate in its history. Twenty five years ago I won 16% of the vote in Cork South Central. It’s about time someone did better.

Success in a by election is no guarantor of future political success. Almost one in five by election winners are not elected in a subsequent general election.

A more interesting correlation is that by election runners up are quite successful in being elected in later elections.

Maybe those are the lines we should be reading though this weekend?

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

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

From top: Fine Gael by-election candidate Verona Murphy’s campaign office in Wexford town; Dan Boyle

The nod and wink of Irish politics is being replaced by the ‘you know what I mean’ provocative phrase. The trigger word, the dog whistle, the epithets of hate, have gained currency in our cheapened political discourse.

Such phrases are more often than not thought through in advance, and rarely are slips of the tongue.

Calculations are made. If some liberal types get offended, a forgiveness strategy might need to be put in place.

Reaction should be swift but doesn’t necessarily have to be sincere. It is a careful calibration against the character doubt that may be created.

For some who have been offended, the thought of someone who has proffered a near immediate apology, is thought to diminish the seriousness of the original, offensive, comment.

Thus two sides of an audience are faced at once.

On the edge comments we wrongly analyse as stand alone content. Too often we ignore what is being implied.

Recent comments by Fine Gael by election candidate, Verona Murphy, on immigration and homelessness came across as crass and cruel. On the surface they certainly were. However the veiled implications seem quite in keeping with current, prevailing, Fine Gael philosophy.

The gist of this philosophy is that the sole determinant of personal wealth is the ability to work hard and be rewarded for effort.

The corollary of this philosophy is those without wealth only have their lack of effort to blame for that.

For hard work also read the market. This the regulator that most strongly rewards those who work hardest.

With the market as king, society stops being a shared experience becoming instead a battleground of competing interests.

In the World of modern day Fine Gael, the worst of these competing interests are those unwilling to work their hardest. They become a drain on those who do.

They are best helped by having them confront the market, whether that be education, employment, or more particularly housing.

Those less mercantile within Fine Gael would point to the party’s Just Society policy document as proof of the party’s sensitive side. Except this would be to exaggerate the place of Just Society in the mythology of Fine Gael.

Adopted as the party’s 1965 election platform it was quickly jettisoned by Liam Cosgrave, who was later to describe the authors of the Just Society document as ‘mongrel foxes’.

Only under the leadership of Garret FitzGerald could Just Society be seen as representing the ethos of Fine Gael.

In the UK, the Conservative Party equivalent would have been One Nation Tories. Largely paternalistic in their approach to social issues, One Nation Tories like Just Society Fine Gael, do show that compassion once existed in right wing parties.

With the Brexit take over of the Conservative Party, One Nation Tories will soon become extinct, joining in an extinction rebellion with their Just Society Fine Gael colleagues.

Margaret Thatcher once famously stated that there was no such thing as society. With the non adherence, in any shape or form, of its once vaunted Just Society values, the current party of government in Ireland seems to now believe that we are just a society.

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

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

From top: The Irish Hotels Federation is attempting to block a large student accommodation facility in Cork being rented out on a short-term basis ; Dan Boyle

Recently Bord Pleanala upheld an objection from Cork hoteliers that a student accommodation centre should not be allowed to offer short term lettings during its off season.

An economic interest group was protected. A competing interest was denied the opportunity to maximise use of its rentable space.

To me this decision should ordinarily be filed under a two bald man fighting over a comb category. It could even be placed into a how many angels on the head of a pin debate.

For what the main planning arbiter in this country is judging on here is not best the interests of a community where such buildings are located, but the consequences of when particular types of, encouraged, development occur more quickly than other more necessary built infrastructure.

In Ireland we place a great emphasis on new construction as a driver for the economy. Because of this we have become more concerned with the scale, rather than the type, of construction that occurs.

Those who develop, those who build, do so in Ireland on those projects that can be constructed quickest that then can realise profits at the earliest opportunity.

Often investment in particular types of development is encouraged through our taxation policies. Many of these tax policies have been lobbied for by developers who argue that it is the number of cranes on the skyline that matters, not so much if the right type of building is being built in the right location.

And these tax incentives help to subsidise the profits of those who lobby exactly for this.

The type of development that has risen, most recently, most quickly, has been commercial property and defined developments such as hotels and student accommodation.

The moribund area of construction is housing, particularly the lack of social housing development.

This is dangerous in a number of respects. Firstly, the construction industry has a limited capacity. The more this capacity is directed towards developments on which there is an overemphasis, the lack of capacity there will be for housing developments.

Secondly, non housing developments get concentrated in and the around the centre of our towns and cities. This reduces the space available for housing developments in these locations.

Housing developments, as and when they occur, are forced to become more and more suburban based, with consequent environmental cost.

Ultimately we risk creating transient communities made up of office workers, tourists and students. We are losing hope that we can create living city and town centres made up of more sustainable population bases.

The point of our planning processes should be that they achieve appropriate and balanced development. Any development isn’t necessarily good development.

We should be regulating infrastructural need ahead of industry preference.

If current trends continue as they are, supply for buildings with transient use will far exceed demand. Then we are likely to hear calls to convert such buildings into residential use. Too much too late.

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


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Minister for the Environment Richard Bruton at the launch of the First Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2019 in the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin last week; Dan Boyle

I’m beginning to understand An Taoiseach’s alternative thought patterns that bit better. The need to be popular sees him promote alternate realities, actual reality being too hard to sell.

In these alternate realities we should be happy that as a country we have Direct Provision for asylum seekers, rather than giving them tents, which apparently is an option.

The number of asylum seekers, as stated in the gospel according to Leo, has not yet reached ‘swamped’ levels in Ireland.

However eternal vigilance is needed, says An Taoiseach, to avoid such ‘swamping’. He has then gone on to identify which asylum seekers from where are to be least trusted. A vital public service.

But it is his cheery take on climate change that has me most convinced. How we have lacked having such a visionary in our lives? Our priorities have been askew. Ireland’s far higher than average carbon emissions should be seen as a route to a better future.

Balmier winters producing a longer living, healthier, population is an idyll we have been avoiding for far too long.

With this as the new focus of government policy, why bother needing to take responsibility for the existence and the level of fuel poverty?

What further pearls of wisdom then await us? Perhaps a devastating put down of the risks of sea level rises on the basis that it will create shorter distances to the beach (new beaches, that is, without sand)?

As a country we could do with more of the unfettered optimism that An Taoiseach, along with some of his cabinet colleagues, are giving when delivering a progress report on their National Climate Action Plan.

The report is claiming that an 85% success rate is being achieved. How brilliant it is to be so tantilisingly close to perfection, and yet to continue to be so badly failing in the main reason for having a Climate Action Plan – ever increasing carbon emissions from Ireland.

Not only is An Taoiseach a master of alternate realities, he is also a genius of counter intuitive thinking.

This government promotes a National Development Plan and a Climate Action Plan, as flagship elements of policy that the government claims are mutually compatible.

They are not. Given that the Development Plan is seen, by the government, as being more equal, it is clear that it carries more deeply the government’s imprimatur.

The prioritisation within the Development Plan will see favoured infrastructure projects becoming fast tracked, the completion of which, of each, will see additional carbon loadings being placed on already vastly exceeded levels.

Maybe this is disjointed rather than counter intuitive thinking.

And yet….

I don’t think An Taoiseach has properly thought his pleasant Winter scenario through. More people living longer because of warmer winters, means more pension payments, greater use of free travel, and more stress on the health service.

The people who get up early in the morning to go to work may not be so happy about that.

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