Wednesday 25 April 2018

Bertie on whether he would run for President: 'I'd think about it'

The former Taoiseach has said he would only run as an Independent candidate

Michael D Higgins is expected to run for the presidency again. Picture: Collins
Michael D Higgins is expected to run for the presidency again. Picture: Collins

Shona Murray

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says he would consider running for President - but he won't run against Michael D Higgins this year.

Instead, he would "maybe" run in seven years, and only as an Independent, not as a Fianna Fáil candidate.

Mr Ahern is adamant President Higgins will seek a second term, but adds: "If he turned around and said he wasn't running that'd be a different thing; I'd have to see what I'd have to do then.

"You'd certainly have to think about it."

Asked about the affiliation of a candidacy, the former Fianna Fáil leader says: "I wouldn't be running for Fianna Fáil; I'd run as an Independent."

Mr Ahern says his potential run would be "maybe in seven years" in the 2025 election.

As part of his wide-ranging interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Ahern says the reason he's not running for the presidency is because nobody will beat President Higgins in the contest.

But if President Higgins were to decide not to run, then Mr Ahern would consider taking on the rest of the candidates.

He believes a second term for the president is a fait accompli, but that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be a competition. "I'm not going to say we shouldn't have an election because I'm a democrat, but if there's an election, ya know, we know the result, it's just a matter of... well, Michael D will win," he said.

"If he turned around and said he wasn't running that'd be a different thing; I'd have to see what I'd have to do then.

"You'd certainly have to think about it."

But as far as Mr Ahern is concerned, the discussion is academic.

"Just believe me, he's [Michael D Higgins] going to run. I've had lots of conversations with him. He's running."

He says: "I've said listen, Michael D is there, he's a good guy. I've worked close with him on all kinds of things. I was a good friend of his in the Dáil."

Despite ruling out a tilt at the Áras this time, the former Taoiseach clearly believes the time is right to come out of the political wilderness.

In a monumental move for the three-term Taoiseach and former leader of the party, he was forced to resign from Fianna Fáil.

He had been a member since the 1960s and had led it to unprecedented successes.

It all fell apart amid the Mahon Tribunal and collapse of the economy.

As he is no longer a member of Fianna Fáil, he would seek to run as an Independent.

The next presidential election will take place at the end of this year. President Higgins has not confirmed that he is to run, although it is believed he will seek a second term.

Mr Ahern added: "It's a matter for Michael D to decide when he's going to announce; he's not stopping anyone else announcing."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section