Bertie Ahern sees role in Europe for Kenny

When you are not Taoiseach ‘getting stuff done is the hard thing’, says Ahern

Bertie Ahern:  refused to be drawn on whether he would prefer Leo Varadkar or Simon Coveney as Taoiseach

Bertie Ahern: refused to be drawn on whether he would prefer Leo Varadkar or Simon Coveney as Taoiseach


Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he expects Enda Kenny to stay active in public life. He suggested that Mr Kenny may continue to be involved in the European People’s Party (EPP) to which Fine Gael is affiliated in the European Parliament. Mr Kenny spent two terms of EPP vice-president.

“He [Kenny] is fit and energetic. I don’t know whether he wants to be involved in Europe, but he has been 15 years in that group [the EPP]. He knows the mechanics of that group very well.”

He said when Mr Kenny stepped down there would be five ex-taoisigh living, the others being Brian Cowen, John Bruton and Liam Cosgrave.

After Mr Ahern stepped down in 2008, he famously had to apply for a driver’s licence as a previous licence had expired and he had been used to being chauffeured around, first as a Minister and then as Taoiseach.

Mr Ahern said there was a “certain satisfaction” in having to provide one’s transport, but he missed the back-up support he used to have in the office.

“It’s getting stuff done is the hard thing. You can do 10 things a day when you have all the stuff, but it’s different when you have to do things for yourself.”

He refused to be drawn on whether he would prefer Leo Varadkar or Simon Coveney as Taoiseach.

“Either of them seem to be very competent guys, very competent Ministers. I think the two of them are two really good candidates, and I know both of them. I probably know Leo very well because I meet him a lot, but best of luck to whoever wins.”

Election next year

He said he did not know how long the next Taoiseach would last, but “there’ll be an election next year anyway, I think everyone thinks that. Whoever gets elected will probably last 10 years, not necessarily as Taoiseach but as leader.”

Mr Ahern noted that Mr Varadkar started going to GAA games after he was elected. “He goes to the matches now in fairness to him. I don’t think he was in Croke Park until he was elected.”

Mr Ahern is currently involved in Ukraine with Crisis Management Initiative, a non-profit organisation founded by Martti Ahtisaari, a former president of Finland and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. He was also a weapons inspector when the IRA decommissioned its arms during the peace process.

Mr Ahern said he would need 10 lifetimes to solve all the conflicts globally that he is involved in.

Messines Ridge

The former taoiseach was a guest speaker at a seminar organised by Dublin City Council and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association to mark the centenary of the battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium which occurs next year.

Mr Ahern said the battle on June 7th, 1917 where the 16th (Irish) Division and 36th (Ulster) Division fought together was “written out of the history of both communities on the island of Ireland”.

The seminar in City Hall also addressed the theme of the role of the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines in promoting peace.