Mother remained FF leader's most unswerving supporter
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern and his brother Deputy Noel Ahern will lead their family tonight at the removal of the remains of their 87-year-old mother Julia from the Mater Hospital to the church of St Vincent de Paul Marino.
Mrs Ahern died in hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning with her family of five at her bedside.
Her sudden death from a heart attack deeply shocked the Taoiseach who had been engaged in intensive talks at government buildings hours before her death.
Although the Taoiseach cancelled all official engagements yesterday, he was in telephone contact with British Prime Minister Tony Blair who expressed his condolences.
Affectionately known as ``the Ma'' by her youngest son, Mrs Ahern was a well known member of Fianna Fail and nurtured Bertie's interest in politics.
When he was elected as Taoiseach last June, Mrs Ahern and her two daughters Kathleen and Eileen were in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery at Leinster House to see the 45-year-old leaderof Fianna Fail voted in as Taoiseach.
Last night the Fianna Fail Parliamentary Party Chairman, Dr Rory O'Hanlon extended the party's sympathies to the Taoiseach, his brother Noel who represents Dublin North West, and the rest of the Ahern family.
He added that the late Mrs Ahern had served Fianna Fail with distinction for many years.
``It is a matter of great sadness that she passed away as this Fianna Fail led government reaches the eve of an historic moment in our nation's history,'' he said.
Describing the Taoiseach's mother as a quietly-spoken woman of great warmth, Dr O'Hanlon said that she was a great support to both her sons in their decision to serve the public.
Mrs Ahern's funeral will take place to Glasnevin Cemetery tomorrow after 12 Mass.
As the youngest of five children he was particularly close to his mother as both she and his late father Con discussed politics.
Yesterday Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who still wants a face-to-face meeting with the Taoiseach before Thursday sent his condolences to Mr Ahern on his bereavement.