'Power to Bertie was like notches on a bedpost' - Celia Larkin
Celia reveals secrets of her ex-lover and former Taoiseach
BERTIE Ahern's former partner Celia Larkin urged him to quit as Taoiseach insisting he could not view successive periods of power like "notches on a bedpost".
Ms Larkin said she never believed the controversial Fianna Fail leader was corrupt but said he should have put the country first and stood down after the second election.
"In my view it's wrong to stay longer than the term and a half," she said.
"But for Bertie it was important to notch up the longest-serving Taoiseach (record); to notch up the three terms in office.
"But running the country is about the country, it's not about notches on a bedpost."
Ms Larkin, who made her comments in a forthcoming TV3 documentary on the Fianna Fail party and whose relationship with Mr Ahern ended in 2003, is known for her discretion in discussing her former relationship.
However, she openly tells TV3 political editor Ursula Halligan that she believed Mr Ahern's time to quit had come long before he finally resigned in May, 2008.
"I think that once the tribunals started it took everybody's eye off the ball," she said.
"The country is more important than any one individual. Once that became such a public issue the country should have come first."
Although she believed that Mr Ahern outstayed his welcome as head of government, she reaffirmed her belief in the man behind the politician's mask.
And despite the growing attention attracted to Mr Ahern as a result of the tribunals she continued to stand by his side.
"I never believed he was corrupt, never," she said. "If I thought he was corrupt, I would never have stayed with him as long as I did.
"I don't think the Bertie that I know would ever have set himself up to be a puppet politician or beholden to anybody."
The pair were friends when Mr Ahern was Lord Mayor of Dublin.
Her time in his shadow has often led to controversy. In 2008, Ms Larkin had to explain to the Mahon Tribunal that she accepted a loan of €40,000 from Mr Ahern in order to allow her to repay one she had got from the party in 1993.
She said she had accepted the loan from Fianna Fail in a bid to protect her two aunts, who lived in a house in Dublin.
In 2005, she attracted controversy through her appointment to the Board of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) and related payments. She received more than €14,000 in fees and expenses in 2009.