Ahern says he did not leave Cook's office over Cromwell


FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern last night denied storming out of former British foreign secretary Robin Cook's office in 1997 upon seeing a picture of Oliver Cromwell in the room.

Speaking at the launch of Dr Micheál Ó Siochrú's book, God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland, Mr Ahern said: "I can honestly say there was no walkout."

Mr Ahern said: "After the delegation and I arrived at Mr Cook's office, there is no doubt Cook noticed our delegation's discomfort, particularly mine. Cook asked me how I felt and was a bit taken aback with my forthright reply."

The introduction of Dr Ó Siochrú's book details an incident whereby the newly elected taoiseach staged a walkout from the office of the foreign secretary upon seeing the portrait hanging, and refused to return until "that murdering bastard" had been removed.

More than 150 people attended the launch at the Long Room in Trinity College Dublin's old library, including TCD vice-provost Patrick Prendergast, Senator David Norris and TCD lecturers Dr Brian Cliff, Dr Mark Hennessy and Dr Seán Duffy.

The vice-provost drew much laughter from the crowd when he compared the former taoiseach to Cromwell: "Bertie is a bit like God's executioner but, in a totally different way [to Cromwell], Bertie has changed the landscape in Ireland."

Prof Jane Ohlmeyer also drew much laughter when she told the audience: "As university funding goes from poor to utterly abysmal, we are looking back on Bertie's premiership as the golden times."

Coinciding with the 350th anniversary of Cromwell's death, the book focuses on his military campaign in Ireland and the background to it, as well as the aftermath.