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Ahern tells teary-eyed cabinet 'Jaysus, get me outta here'

ALL the cabinet ministers wept collectively when the Taoiseach announced his resignation to stunned colleagues, it emerged yesterday.

There has been speculation as to who cried, and who had stubbornly held back the tears of sorrow -- but Bertie Ahern said that "all the men and women were collectively crying".

The outgoing Taoiseach said that moment on Wednesday morning was the first time he yearned to leave a Fianna Fail meeting early.


"It was the first time in my life I wanted to get out of a Fianna Fail meeting quick, when all the men and all the women were collectively crying. I said 'jaysus, I don't need any more of this, get me out of here'," he said.

Ministers such as Mary Hanafin, Brian Lenihan and Willie O'Dea looked visibly upset when they emerged by the Taoiseach's side last week to announce his departure.

He was also flanked by senior ministers such as Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern and Micheal Martin, in addition to his coalition partners Mary Harney and John Gormley.

Last week, however, ministers refused to name the chief mourners, with only Ms Hanafin publicly admitting to shedding tears.

In an interview with RTÉ's 'This Week' programme yesterday, Mr Ahern insisted he was leaving behind a united party, adding there was only a "handful" of Fianna Fail colleagues who cannot tolerate him after 30 years in politics.

"There probably might be a handful of people in the party who can't tolerate me. That's not bad after being there 30 years. I don't think there would even be a handful. There'd probably be two or three," he said.

"I said to myself if you're working off the basis that it's less than two or three per cent, you don't push your luck too much. I've a united party, united councillors, united national executive who hugely supported me."

In further explaining his shock resignation last week, Mr Ahern indicated that the Mahon Tribunal had been a key factor in his decision because of the "old nonsense" it generates.

He said if he had remained on as Taoiseach he would have spent a substantial amount of time "talking endlessly about things that happened 15 years ago, what did the last financial institution find, or who found what or who remembered what".

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