FG bookie stops taking Ahern bets


Former Fine Gael minister Mr Ivan Yates has said his betting shops have stopped taking bets on Bertie Ahern being returned to office as Taoiseach after the general election.

Speaking from his home in Enniscorthy, the former agriculture minister who is giving up politics said the "smart money" was being piled on the Taoiseach being returned to office.

He said his company, Celtic Bookmakers, was no longer taking bets on such an outcome.

Mr Yates, often seen as a Fine Gael leadership contender before he gave up frontline politics last year, said:

"I want to stress that the betting in no way reflects my own personal view, but since the campaign began the odds on Bertie being Taoiseach have gone from 1/5, to 1/12 to 1/25 so we are no longer taking bets on that issue," he explained.

He said that over the same period, the company's odds on the Fine Gael leader, Mr Michael Noonan, becoming Taoiseach had gone out from 7/2 at the beginning of the campaign and Mr Noonan could now be backed at 12/1.

He added that the possibility of a Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition had drifted and a lot of money was being gambled on Fianna Fáil getting more than 76 seats.

Mr Yates, who left the Fine Gael front bench last year and announced he would not be standing again for the Dáil, said he was doing some canvassing.

He has been canvassing for the man who has replaced him on the Fine Gael ticket in Wexford, Mr Paul Keogh.

"I am out most nights in Enniscorthy and the environs, but my involvement is purely localised," he said.

He said he was not missing the political buzz normally associated with the elections in which he had been involved over the past 20 years.

"I do not envy the colleagues who are out and about. I am not missing it and my retirement from politics has gone exactly as I hoped and planned," he said.

"So many politicians wait until there is an enforced leaving . . . I am very happy and the business is going well."