Monday 19 March 2018

Publisher leaves Bertie out of the picture

The cover of Alasdair Campbell's 'The Irish Diaries', which omits former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
The cover of Alasdair Campbell's 'The Irish Diaries', which omits former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

John Spain Books Editor

THE cover of Alastair Campbell's new book, 'The Irish Diaries (1994-2003)', is causing some surprise in political circles because it appears to have airbrushed Bertie Ahern away from his biggest achievement.

The book, by Tony Blair's former press secretary, gives the inside story on the marathon effort by the former Taoiseach and the former British prime minister to achieve a peace settlement in Northern Ireland.

Peace in the North is generally seen as Ahern's great achievement. But he is nowhere to be seen in the group picture on the cover of Campbell's new book, which has just been published.

David Trimble, Bill Clinton and Seamus Mallon are there, as they played key parts. And Tony Blair is there since, as the book acknowledges, without him and Bertie Ahern the peace deal would never have happened.

The full text of Mr Campbell's book makes clear the enormous effort that Ahern put into the peace negotiations. And in his foreword, Tony Blair says they were "immensely fortunate" to have had the leadership provided by Ahern.

Editor Kathy Gilfillan, in her Editor's Note, says that it is "obvious that he (Bertie Ahern) was pivotal in the peace negotiations." However, the publisher, Antony Farrell of Lilliput Press in Dublin, denies any decision was taken not to use Bertie.

"It's not 'airbrushing' – he was never in that picture," Mr Farrell said. "We did not have a suitable group cover photograph of all the leaders that included Mr Ahern, so we went with this one taken on the Stormont steps. If we get to a mass-market paperback edition of this book and we can find the right picture, we'd certainly put him in the cover frame," Mr Farrell added.

'The Irish Diaries' will be launched in Dublin tomorrow by broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan, with author Alastair Campbell present.

Irish Independent

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