Joke about 'Good old days' sparks attempted assault with crutch on Bertie Ahern
Published 09/11/2013 | 02:00
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was the victim of an attempted assault with a crutch last night in a pub in Dublin city centre.
Mr Ahern was attending a public servant retirement party for a friend at the Sean O'Casey pub, a well-known establishment, near the Abbey Theatre in the city when the incident occurred.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn had also been attending the event but is understood to have left before the dramatic events unfolded.
The former Taoiseach was standing with a group at the bar when Dubliner Ray Connolly approached them, before taking a swing at them with his crutch.
Speaking to the Irish Independent afterwards, Mr Connolly explained that he had been sitting at the bar having a "quiet pint" when Bertie and his friends came in "with sandwiches".
He claimed the North Dublin former politician was "laughing all night long" but Mr Connolly became extremely annoyed when he heard Mr Ahern say: "That was in the good old days," before bursting out laughing again.
"He's put a lot of people in a terrible situation.
"I've two kids – he's put €30,000 on their heads each," he explained.
Demonstrating how he had wielded the crutch – which was now slightly bent – Mr Connolly revealed that he used to play hurling.
Mr Connolly was swiftly ejected from the bar and he was subsequently arrested and taken to Store Street Garda Station. It is understood the arrest was not related to the assault on the former Taoiseach and is believed to have been for a minor public order offence.
Mr Connolly said he was "bitterly disappointed" that Mr Ahern had decided not to press charges, saying he wanted his "day in court with Bertie".
Gardai declined to comment on the incident.
The former Taoiseach continued to enjoy the event with friends, and stayed on for a further hour.
Owner of the bar, Tim O'Riordan, also declined to make any comment.
However, a patron of the bar confirmed the incident had happened but insisted the former Taoiseach had not been injured and said the crutch had connected with the bar counter.
Since departing from office, sources say Mr Ahern has occasionally been verbally abused by members of the public.
He was previously confronted by a constituent while having a pint in the Goose Tavern pub, in Drumcondra.
On that occasion it is understood he was approached by a widower who was annoyed at the standard of care his wife had received during her final few months.
The former Taoiseach is still a regular in Fagan's, his local pub in Drumcondra, near to his home and across the road from his former constituency office of St Luke's.
Mr Ahern no longer has a garda driver, since the privilege was removed from former Taoisigh two years ago after the coalition Government came to office.
By Nicola Anderson and Fionnan Sheahan