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Bertie's gone regal with new title and it could be 'Iar' to stay

'Ere, Taoiseach -- you'll never believe this one! Bertie Ahern wants to be known in future as 'Iar-Taoiseach', an honorary form of address that means 'former Taoiseach'.

Mr Ahern regally claimed the right to continuing obeisance from citizens in an interview from the Listowel Racecourse on radio yesterday.

None of the other ten Taoisigh were ever known as Iar-Taoiseach after they gave up office, lost power, or had it taken from them.

And Ahern, even when Head of Government, was always known as "Bertie" -- before his fall from grace, which came courtesy of his incredible evidence to the Mahon Tribunal.

Mr Ahern made known his wishes yesterday in a live interview with George Hook on Newstalk radio -- and the latter immediately punctured the pomposity by prefacing every further question with the words Iar-Taoiseach.

Irish language experts pointed out last night that Mr Ahern's pronunciation -- never exact in the English language -- was at fault. They said Iar-Thaoiseach should properly take an aspirating 'h' in the second word, meaning it should be pronounced phonetically as "Ear Heeshock".

Mr Ahern pointed out that former Presidents of the United States always retain their honorific title, being known as 'President Clinton' or 'President Carter', even after they leave office. But these are former Heads of State, and Mr Ahern was 'only' Head of Government. He also once said that when he left politics he would lead a quiet life -- but has instead gone on a globetrotting bull run of appointments since May.

Last night there was speculation that Ahern's demand to be called Iar-Thaoiseach was connected to his efforts to launch a career as an inspirational speaker on the lecture circuit.

"During the summer I was down with the gaeilgoirs in Kerry and they couldn't understand, if for all your career you have the word Taoiseach, why do you change when you are the former Taoiseach," explained Mr Ahern when asked about his new title.

"So they said that I should use the word Iar-Taoiseach, which means former Taoiseach, so that's what I'm doing."

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