Dan Boyle puts his tweet in it again

Twitter’s an odd phenomenon. One thing it exemplifies is the consistent failure of the media and of entertainment corporations to appreciate the distinction between content and platform. In terms of functionality, Twitter offers nothing (in fact, it offers less) that services such as Livejournal did not offer a decade ago. What has seen it prosper has been its ability to deliver a service for which there is a proven demand via new and more convenient technological platforms.

Similarly, the entertainment giants currently scrabbling hell-for-leather to replicate their existing programming on iPhones and laptops are wasting their time. The public aren’t abandoning broadcast TV because they dislike the platform. They’re voting with their thumbs because accessing the 10% of TV they do like via DVR, compact formats and online services is a small price to pay for not having to wade through the other 90% of horseshit.

However, there is little in this world entirely bereft of redeeming features, and Twitter’s chief redeeming feature consists of permitting me to offer, ahem, feedback to certain politicians and media organisations. One of the better sports (in terms of engaging in debate) is Green Party chair and sinecurist esteemed Senator, Dan Boyle. Danny Boy’s careless fingers have landed him in hot water before, when his reservations over the tenability of Willie O’Dea’s ongoing presence in government introduced Twitter to the Irish political lexicon and opened up fissures between the Greens and their Fianna Fáil partners in crime.

My latest exchange with Boyle began with a (fairly gratuitous and ungracious, admittedly) statement on my part regarding his upcoming appearance on a radio panel. I stated my hope that the challenge to the economic consensus offered by the referendum result in Iceland and the struggles of the Greek working class would come up in conversation. I later added that his government would never have put NAMA to a public vote because they knew they couldn’t possibly force it through. His response was as follows.

Of course. Most of any government’s policies, especially tax policies, would be voted down in referenda.

This was an extraordinary admission, not simply because it demonstrates the shortcomings of Irish-style representative democracy, but because of the quarter whence it emanates. Forget the specious attempt to generalise, this was a specific acknowledgement from the chairperson of one of the ruling parties that his government has no mandate for the greatest and most far-reaching act of economic sabotage this country has ever seen.

This shameless subversion of democracy takes on an even more sinister aspect when you remember that Boyle’s party, along with the beneficiaries of NAMA, was in the vanguard of ultimately successful attempts to overturn the democratic decision of the Irish people to reject the Lisbon Treaty. All had changed, changed utterly, we were told; so drastically as to invalidate the previous result (although we were also told the treaty was “modest” and a “housekeeping exercise”, by an establishment suffering from a chronic inability to keep its lies straight.)

Why in that context, was the act of mortgaging the futures of millions of Irish citizens (living and unborn), the radical nature of which is disputed neither by its opponents nor its champions, not considered of sufficient gravity to necessitate public approval (via election or referendum?)

Boyle’s Green Party colleague Paul “Ramsay” Gogarty (an eye-popping interview with whom was reproduced on CLR recently) evidently suffers from the same syndrome. In the course of his notorious tirade late last year, Gogarty acknowledged that he was going to lose his seat at the next election, as a result of supporting the government’s all-out budgetary assault on the poor and poorly-paid.

What does it say about an individual’s fitness for public office when he is willing, in violation of their wishes and the basis on which he was elected, to take an axe to the incomes and public services of his constituents, in order to drain the dregs of his self-confessedly discredited mandate and all its attendant privileges for a few months longer?

What does it say about the kind of party, and the kind of political culture, that fosters that attitude?


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