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Tuesday 22 October 2019

Bertie: too easy to play blame game

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that people overstretched themselves during the boom and that it was now "handy" for them to blame somebody else.

In a later episode of the TV3's three-part documentary, the Rise and Fall of Fianna Fail, the first of which will be broadcast tomorrow night, Mr Ahern says: "People blame people. I know people who have very good apartments or houses in France or Spain or Italy or Greece. I know people who have very good houses and second houses and third houses and fourth and fifth houses in Ireland. They did overstretch themselves and I suppose it's handy enough for them to blame somebody."

Mr Ahern also says that after his resignation he was not contacted by his successor, Brian Cowen, on "any serious issue". He says: "The funny side of that is that other prime ministers from other countries would regularly contact me."

He adds: "I think in our set-up former leaders are only used by the Council of State and by the President. We tend not to be used by the political system. In my judgment, that's a mistake."

He also says that after he left power he tried to warn the Government not to push ahead with changes to the

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medical card for pensioners.

"I actually rang one of the advisers and told them it was insane and they should get out of it quickly. I was told nobody copped it. They didn't think it was a big issue. Twenty four hours later they copped it. That was a mistake and in fairness to them a week later they acknowledged that."

Mr Ahern also says that when he was Taoiseach his ministers were continually asking him to spend more money on their departments.

"Most of the people coming in the door were my ministers. God, if there wasn't a day they weren't trying to catch you to spend more money because they could never say no."

Sunday Independent

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