Thursday 21 September 2017

I would love to become member of Fianna Fáil again: Bertie

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Photo: Tom Burke
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has admitted he would like to once again become a "card-carrying member" of Fianna Fáil.

Mr Ahern quit the party in 2012 following the publication of the Mahon Tribunal report.

However, he has been repeatedly linked to a potential return to politics in recent months. Last year, the Fianna Fáil branch in Dublin Central passed a motion calling on Mr Ahern to be invited back into the party fold.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Ahern said he had been an active member of the party for 40 years and still wanted to contribute to its progress.

"Of course, listen if I was a card-carrying member tomorrow I would be happy, in the meantime I still go on and support it in whatever way I can," Mr Ahern told Ivan Yates on 'Newstalk'.

On the issue of domestic politics, Mr Ahern predicted a general election will take place next year and before the minority Government's two-year anniversary in office.

He said that while party leader, he favoured entering coalition with the Labour Party.

"I was always a bit more on the left - I always wanted to do a deal with the Labour Party," Mr Ahern told the programme.

"From what I gauge from all my Fianna Fáil friends, there is no feeling about going with Sinn Féin whatever. I think more of them would look for a deal of stability with Fine Gael."

However, Mr Ahern said a potential Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin coalition was more likely if Mary Lou McDonald took over from Gerry Adams.

"That could change the game," Mr Ahern said.

"I don't think that can just happen, where Mary Lou comes in and then all of a sudden it changes - I think she would have to be there for a period."

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern cautioned gainst any move to "force" a border poll on a united Ireland.

He said he didn't believe a 32 county island was achievable in the short term.

"I'd love to think there will [be a united Ireland]. Having a border poll in the short term would set it back and make sure it's not in my kids' lifetime," Mr Ahern said.

"The whole spirit of the Good Friday Agreement is to work in peace and harmony on this island, until the day comes that nationalist and republicans will convince freely a proportion of unionists and loyalists that a united Ireland is a good idea. You will set it back by forcing it in the short term."

Mr Ahern also played down the significance of Taoiseach Enda Kenny securing the agreement from his EU colleagues in relation to the North.

"It's a fact of life because the German precedent is there and nobody could take that away for us. To be honest, it was a given," Mr Ahern added.

Irish Independent

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