Ahern 'obsessed' over stadium


Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin today said Bertie Ahern was "obsessed" about a national stadium following comments made by the former taoiseach.

Mr Ahern yesterday expressed regret that he did not succeed in having “a proper, national infrastructural stadium” 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.”

Today, Mr Martin said Mr Ahern was "obsessed about the stadium thing".

He said: "I've never shared that obsession. In fact I look back over the last 10 years, if you look at sporting facilities across the country, they have been transformed in every club almost."

Noting Croke Park and the Aviva stadium were now completed, Mr Martin said: "Everybody remembers that magic moment in the Croke Park, the Ireland-England rugby game. That, to me, took over as the national stadium, so forget that [a national stadium], that's water under the bridge.

The new Fianna Fáil party leader said Mr Ahern was about "much more" than just a national stadium, and cited the achievement of peace in the North as his colleague's finest achievement.

Mr Martin said "significant mistakes" had been made in the past. "I've acknowledged that and I've said sorry for that."

On his last full day in Leinster House yesterday, 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.

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.