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'Deadwood' Bertie insists he's happier out of the limelight

A DICTIONARY definition of 'deadwood' is "someone or something that is unwanted and unneeded".

So the writing appeared to be on the wall yesterday as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD opened an exhibition on "the social, economic and environmental importance of the world's forests" in a public library on Dublin's North Strand.

The very small crowd present -- single figures --seemed to spell it out.

And Mr Ahern dismissed reports linking him to what would appear to be the easiest way back to high-profile politics: the nascent position of mayor of Dublin.

An office without money of its own, he argued, was of little use.

But surely a return to the political limelight would be of interest?

"No, I like doing small things now in the constituency. I'm doing a lot in Northern Ireland.''

He expressed sympathy for Willie O'Dea, Trevor Sargent and George Lee after their respective falls from political grace, but he doesn't believe the Government will inevitably fall before its term is due to end.

"These things happen," he said. "I heard (David) Cameron yesterday having a go at Gordon Brown saying, '21 ministers later' in resignations, so in our terms I don't think we have too many. So I don't think it really has any effect."

A run for Aras an Uachtarain in 2011?

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"That's for another day," he replied. "That doesn't come up until next year, then I'll have to answer."

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