Ahern expresses regret over stadium


FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has expressed regret that he did not succeed in having “a proper, national infrastructural stadium” while he was in office.

On his last full day in Leinster House, Mr Ahern, who has confirmed he will not contest the general election, told RTÉ he wished that “somebody, somewhere” had told him about the developing crisis in the Irish banking system while he was in office.

He said he had lots of regrets about different things. “I still think we didn’t get a proper, national infrastructural stadium, and I think unfortunately when I see little countries like Qatar and Kuwait . . . talking about their 10 stadiums and we never succeeded in getting one national stadium. That’s an achievement I tried hard to do but I didn’t get.”

Mr Ahern’s radio interview yesterday was interrupted by People Before Profit councillor Joan Collins, who said the former taoiseach and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves because “people like ourselves” were experiencing wage cuts and increased taxes. “Have you no shame”, Ms Collins asked Mr Ahern. “You’ve been on the TV there the last few days mouthing out of yourself. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Shame on you . . . I’m getting less money in my pay cheque all the time. How dare you,” Ms Collins said.

Ms Collins works as a post office clerk as well as being a councillor for the Crumlin and Kimmage areas of Dublin.

Dismissing her intervention, Mr Ahern said: “Outside here [Leinster House] this happens every day because people come along here to try get themselves on television and radio.” However, he conceded: “There is an anger, there’s no doubt about that.”

He said a lot of people had lost their jobs, their standard of living had dropped and they were facing difficulties that they had not faced in the last 15 years.

Mr Ahern said: “I certainly would like to be leaving today with unemployment being 4 per cent and economic growth still being the 10 and 11 per cent it was for many of the years I was there,” he said.

“I would have loved if somebody, somewhere had of told me what was going on in the banks in this country but nobody ever did. You get wise after the event.”

Asked if he would miss Leinster House, he said: “Kind of.”