Friday 14 December 2018

'It lives with me every day' - former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on his 'one regret'

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in interview with Shona Murray
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in interview with Shona Murray

Shona Murray

The "one regret" that lives with Bertie Ahern is the decision he made on the weekend before the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

Amid febrile brinkmanship and a whirlwind of local and national engagements, he decided not to call over to his mother Julia's house despite the fact he was nearby and had intended to do so.

"One regret that lives with me every day is that I didn't get back to the house that day," he told the Irish Independent.

"I was in Drumcondra that evening and I was within 50 yards of the house; I was within 50 yards of the house the following morning but didn't call," he said.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern with his mother Julia
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern with his mother Julia

He stayed in the North an extra night, and hadn't returned until late on Friday.

"I was to go and visit my mam on the Friday night and I didn't do it; and I didn't do it on the Saturday morning."

His mother had a heart-attack on the Sunday, and was buried on the Wednesday before the Good Friday Agreement was settled.

"I never got to speak to her again," he says. She was alive in the Mater hospital, but she wasn't "engaging".

"Every day I think about that; I just didn't go 50 yards. The lesson is that when you think of your parents: call."

He's grateful for his mother's help in forming some of the ideas for the peace agreement, how they'd parse through the issues.

"My last debate with her was the previous week about changing articles two and three of the Constitution which saw the Irish State give up its territorial claim to the North. And she wondered, was I right."

Irish Independent

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