Ahern on O'Donoghue: 'no choice' but to stand down


FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern said he did not put in place any "special arrangements" to facilitate John O'Donoghue taking up the position of Ceann Comhairle after the general election in 2007.

Mr Ahern, who was in Belfast yesterday where he signed copies of his autobiography in Eason's, said he was "very sorry on a personal level" for Mr O'Donoghue, his wife and family and supporters.

"John O'Donoghue was an outstanding Minister for Justice, an outstanding Minister for Tourism, Arts and Sport," he said. "He did travel abroad. Tourism was an all-island subject and he went to the cultural events and sporting events and knowing John I think a lot of those events he would have been happier not to be going to. He would be happier to be down in Kerry. But that's how it goes," said Mr Ahern.

Mr Ahern said when Mr O'Donoghue started losing support in the Dáil "it left him with no choice" but to stand down.

Earlier yesterday, when speaking to BBC's Good Morning Ulsterpresenter Mark Carruthers about Mr O'Donoghue's resignation, Mr Ahern said expenses incurred by office holders "were high".

But, he said, "in fairness to the members, including myself, we've taken a 10 per cent reduction in salary. In my allowance because I was a former office holder I've taken a 25 per cent reduction...

"The issue about expenses abroad, I think I've some sympathy with office holders about that because what happens is when you go abroad embassies and the people you go to organise the hotels and travel and the office holder, the ministers - in this case John O'Donoghue - would have little control over where he stays."

Mark Carruthers said: "He was the one who decided his wife was going to go with him."

Mr Ahern replied: "Well, that's the issue. Although I have to say, Mark, I used to get into trouble over that because when I was separated and didn't have a wife going with me they used to give out to me."