Bertie hangs around for a portrait spot


LEINSTER HOUSE authorities are puzzling over where to hang a portrait of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, which was expected to be mounted before the Dáil resumes on September 14th.

The area around the main staircase leading to the Dáil chamber, where paintings of former taoisigh are traditionally hung in chronological sequence, has become over-crowded, a Leinster House source confirmed.

“There are no spaces. It would mean having to move somebody else,” the source said.

Portraits of Éamon de Valera and William T Cosgrave were transferred to the lobby to make way for later taoisigh such as Albert Reynolds and John Bruton. The painting of Mr Ahern by Dublin-based artist James Hanley features a side view of Mr Ahern sitting cross-legged on a wooden chair against a plain blue background. Created in 2001, it previously was taken around the country as part of the Office of Public Works touring exhibition of portraits.

Dr Seán Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland, suggested an alternative to the traditional portrait given the economic climate: “Maybe it might be more appropriate given the times we are in that Government could decide that photographs could replace works of art until such time that we recover a bit.”

A portrait of former taoiseach Brian Cowen will be included in the collection in the future.