Ahern: three elections in just 18 months a possibility
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has warned that the country may be heading back to the infamous period of political instability which saw three general elections in 18 months.
Mr Ahern said the recent pattern of opinion polls had shown little change in the fortunes of political parties, bar Sinn Féin, which he said had seen its support fall by about 5pc.
"I turned 5pc around in one TV programme, so these things can change a lot," he said. "But if you look back at the last seven or eight polls, those figures don't change very much - maybe go up and down slightly."
Asked about the prospect of a return to a long period of instability such as the early 1980s, Mr Ahern said: "If you were to take the poll, as the last poll, or any of the recent polls, that's what they say."
He said the difficulty for the parties on the left was that if they did not transfer to each other, "they are going nowhere".
However, Mr Ahern said parties' standings could change quite often and the outcome of an election is difficult to call.
On the issue of Fianna Fáil, Mr Ahern said party leader Micheál Martin had made it clear the party's intention was to maximise its number of votes.
Mr Ahern made the remarks at the launch of a new book entitled 'Power Play - The Rise of Modern Sinn Féin' by journalist Deaglún De Bréadún.
He challenged the Sinn Féin leadership to explain assertions in a UK report of a belief that the party is influenced by the army council. He welcomed the findings that the PIRA is no longer recruiting or involved in armed procurement, adding that he saw no reason why the parties in the North cannot continue talks on power sharing.