Monday 20 November 2017

Bertie baffled by the politicians 'who want to hand back power'

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell and former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt at the launch of the Festival of Politics. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell and former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt at the launch of the Festival of Politics. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it is 'not good enough' for the European Union, British government and the Irish Government to all say they are in favour of an open, frictionless Border and then to ultimately not find one that works.

He said he "wouldn't get hung up" on what the Border is - so long as it did not "bring us back to the bad old days".

Mr Ahern was speaking at the launch of a new Festival of Politics in Dublin, which takes place from November 22 to 26.

Among those appearing are activist and singer Peggy Seeger, James Delingpole of the controversial Breitbart News in a panel discussion on Donald Trump, and a discussion with the team behind 'Untold: The Daniel Morgan Story' podcast (dubbed the 'British Serial' after the US podcast phenomenon) about the UK's longest-running unsolved crime, as well as a discussion with Muslim satirists from The Hummus News.

One of the organisers of the festival is former Fianna Fáil environment minister Noel Dempsey.

Launching the festival alongside Mike Nesbitt, former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mr Ahern said that since politicians "love power", he cannot understand how Northern politicians are willing to hand that power back.

Mr Nesbitt described the current situation in the North - with Westminster imposing a budget - as "another sign of how depressing the failure of Stormont has been".

He believes the two main parties have "enough self-interest" to forge a deal in early new year to get Stormont back up and running. But he says it would be based "more on self-interest of the big parties rather than a solid foundation".

The finances "aren't good at the moment but they're going to get worse," he said.

Brexit was "an enormous issue", said Mr Nesbitt, acknowledging nationalists have been left feeling "diminished and angry" at being stripped of their European identity.

On the Border, he said a possible solution could see "more than one Border" in place - with the two islands being treated as a single unit for the movement of people. The movement of goods was "more difficult," he admitted.

Irish Independent

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