Wednesday 21 March 2018

Ahern dynasty comes to an end as Noel steps down

Noel Ahern and a delegate at the Dublin North West FF selection convention, at the Ardmore Hotel, Finglas, Dublin, last night
Noel Ahern and a delegate at the Dublin North West FF selection convention, at the Ardmore Hotel, Finglas, Dublin, last night

Fiach Kelly and Aine Kerr

THE Ahern political dynasty came to an end last night when former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's brother Noel became the latest Fianna Fail TD to step down.

The Dublin North West TD announced at the constituency selection convention in Finglas that he would not be standing in the general election.

It follows Bertie Ahern's decision last month not to contest the election, and Noel Ahern's decision brings the total number of Fianna Fail TDs standing down from the Dail to 16.

It means that Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey, who now holds the Transport and Energy briefs, too, will be the only name on the Fianna Fail ticket in Dublin North West.

It had been speculated in recent weeks that Mr Ahern was coming under pressure from the party hierarchy to step down. Two FF candidates in a three-seater constituency could split the vote and cause both to lose out.

Speaking at the Dublin Central convention last night, where Mary Fitzpatrick -- famously "shafted" by the Ahern election machine in 2007 -- was selected for the FF ticket, Bertie Ahern claimed he and his brother would have retained their seats had they contested the election.

He also said there was no hope of FF winning two seats in Dublin Central, and his loyalties this time would be with sitting TD Cyprian Brady.

"It's a good time. I think had he stayed on any longer, he would have been quite old the next time. Between the two of us, we've had 60 years' service to this area.

"We had fun. We worked very hard. And I pay tribute to Noel. He worked seven days a week. He probably deserves a rest."

Noel Ahern was first elected as a TD in 1992 and has held his Dail seat ever since. He was appointed junior minister for drugs by his brother Bertie in 2002, and then junior minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works in 2007.

Another brother, Maurice Ahern, lost his seat on Dublin City Council in the 2009 local elections. .

Noel Ahern last night said there was "no point" in him and Mr Carey standing, since Fianna Fail were polling so badly. He told close friends at Christmas he was stepping down but insisted there was no pressure from headquarters.

"They're not doing it like that," he said.

"They certainly talked to me about electoral strategy and that you'd have a better chance by running one candidate. I fully agree with that, I know that in my heart," he added.

Irish Independent

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