Teflon Bertie steps down
Teflon Bertie steps down

Former Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern has announced he will not run for the Dublin parliament at the next general election.

Following a similar announcement by two current Fianna Fail Ministers, Mr Ahern sought to pre-empt claims that his own retirement was also an attempt to avoid humiliation at the next election.

In a speech to his party in the Dublin Central constituency, Mr Ahern claimed it was always clear he would quit politics before he was 60 years of age.

In recent years, Ahern’s view of his political career has deviated sharply from the public view of his administration and that of his successor, Brian Cowen, both blamed for the economic collapse of the 26-County state.

Jokingly asked by reporters if he intended to run for the Presidency, Ahern remarkably replied: “I don’t know. I honestly haven’t decided that.” Asked if he was ruling out running, he said: “No, not tonight, everyone would love to be in the Aras. Only one person will end up there.”

Asked if he had any regrets, Ahern accused his own advisors and media commentators of failing to warn him of the dangers faced by the heavily over-leveraged banking system.

On Anglo Irish Bank, he said: “I can honestly say that not once did anyone or any delegation that came in to see me ever say, ‘Watch out for Anglo’ . . . I wish they had have.”

Ahern will be largely remembered as the ‘teflon Taoiseach’ whose political skills vastly outstripped his capacity for governance.

His abilities to cajole and convince were quickly recognised by his British counterpart, Tony Blair, who encouraged Ahern to extract key concessions from Sinn Fein in the negotiations leading up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Ahern said he was proud of the role that he and former British prime minister Tony Blair played in leading the negotiations on the Good Friday Agreement “to a successful and a successfully lasting conclusion”.

“Every single day, I thank God that I have lived to see peace fulfilled.”

Brian Cowen described Ahern as “the consummate politician of our generation and “a person of rare ability and extraordinary talent.”

Mr Ahern will receive an estimated 135,000 euro as a combined ministerial and TD’s pension. Had he delayed his retirement until after the end of February 2012, his pension would have been significantly less.

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