Fionnan Sheahan: Ahern says he'd love to run for Aras, but FF has other ideas . . .
Published 09/09/2010 | 05:00
Bertie Ahern wants to become the President of Ireland.
After all, the former Taoiseach has a pristine record when it comes to his management of the country and he left the economy in immaculate order.
"The reality is I left this country in a state where we had low national debt, full employment, low taxes and I didn't foresee Lehman's coming and the rules changing," he said yesterday.
His biggest regret seems to be that he was foiled in his plan to build the Bertie Bowl, the white elephant national stadium, which would have cost up to €1bn to construct, before the plug was finally pulled on his vanity project by his coalition partners in the Progressive Democrats.
Rather than the consequences of his economic policies -- 450,000 on the dole queues or the €3bn in forthcoming cuts and tax increases, or the increased cost of state borrowing -- Mr Ahern seemed to be most upset about the failure to build his stadium, instead of the new Aviva Stadium.
"I think it was one of the worst mistakes that we made," he claimed.
"I think that was a terrible mistake -- a national stadium for this country and it was a crying shame," he added.
"When I couldn't politically get that, I put €190m of taxpayers' money into it [the Aviva Stadium].
"I would have preferred to end up with a national stadium," he said on RTE Radio's 'The John Murray Show'.
Nobody told him there were any problems coming down the line on the banking front. After all, the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator assured him everything was fine.
"The fact is they didn't see any of that and we as a government didn't know what regulations were going because it is independent of the government," he said.
And how could he have been expected to know what regulations were required? Sure he was only the head of the government.
From his time as Taoiseach, Mr Ahern does accept he made some mistakes. He just can't identify any.
"Were there some things we should have done? Of course there is," he said.
"I agree with Tony Blair on the international recession, that we all have to take our share of it," he added.
In his own head, he is still a beloved and revered figure with only "a small section of people" ever giving him hassle.
"You take the good and the bad," he said philosophically.
In fact, Mr Ahern would have loved to still be Taoiseach through the economic crisis so he could have been in there, battling away and making the crucial decisions, repairing the economy -- back to the perfect way he 'left' the country.
"Quite frankly, I would have loved to have been there to do it, because quite frankly I spent all of my life working to do it.
"I wanted to go to the end of 2009. That was my preferred period. I would have loved to have been there for that period but I wasn't," he said.
If only he had stayed on, the country might never have gone down the drain.
His next step is to Aras an Uachtarain, where he fancies the job of President. Strangely, he hasn't had the knock on the door from his party to run.
"I talked to nobody about it and I'm not likely to do so in the short term," he said.
Living in his own deluded little universe, Bertie Ahern is still highly entertaining but gradually his adoring public is laughing at him, not with him.
What he can't see is the joke is on him.