Tuesday 22 August 2017

Bertie Ahern may run for President if Michael D Higgins bows out in 2018

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Photo: Frank McGrath
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Photo: Frank McGrath
Leaving State: President Higgins

Rebecca Lumley

Bertie Ahern may run for President if Michael D Higgins does not seek a second term next year, according to the former Taoiseach’s brother. 

Maurice Ahern told The Star that his brother would be interested in running “in the right circumstances,” saying “he has never given me a definite no.”

He said that Bertie visited Áras an Uachtaráin two weeks ago but had received no indication as to whether President Higgins will run again in 2018.

“The President will probably say in October or November that he’s running again and if that’s the case, then maybe there will be no contest,” he said.  

“But if he’s not running again then it’s an open field. I think he (Bertie) probably would (run for President) in that circumstance.” Maurice, who is a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, said he last discussed the subject with his brother after his recent visit with Michael D Higgins and Enda Kenny.

He said: “I asked him what was the story with the President. I asked him did he know if the President was going to run or going to go, and he said no I think the President is keeping it close to his chest.

Leaving State: President Higgins
Leaving State: President Higgins

“I think he (President Higgins) will be making his mind up later in the year. I think what Bertie is doing now to be quite honest- he’s sitting on the fence, he’s not going to stick his neck out when there’s no vacancy.”

Maurice said that while his brother is still popular with local constituents, he may find it difficult to gather votes from those who blame him for the 2008 financial crisis.

He said: “I still see him in Croke Park and he is stopped all the way down and people want to take photographs with him and are constantly asking him ‘when are you coming back Bertie?’

“And then you get the other people who don’t want to see him come back so he’s got to find the middle ground and see what’s there.”

He speculated that if his brother did run for the role, he could be in competition with Enda Kenny. He argued that a former-Taoiseach should have had a break from “political life” before entering into another high profile role.

He said: “If it’s Bertie or Kenny or anyone running for that office it would want to be someone who has had a bit of a rest from political life, and Bertie has probably had a good rest.”

Bertie Ahern served as Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008. He formally resigned from the Fianna Fáil party in 2012 following publication of the Mahon Tribunal report.

The report looked into the former leader’s personal finances, finding irregularities with the handling of €200,000. More recently he has been working with international groups and carrying out mediation work in Ukraine.

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