Wednesday 16 October 2019

Former advisor says Bertie Ahern would feel 'salvation' with return to politics

Political moves: Ahern with Brian Cowen in 2009
Political moves: Ahern with Brian Cowen in 2009

Cormac Fitzgerald

A former advisor to Bertie Ahern has said that being back in politics would be "salvation" for the former Taoiseach after the banking collapse.

Mr Paddy Duffy also said that Bertie Ahern will admit that he made mistakes during his time in office.

Speaking on Newstalk's The Pat Kenny Show, Mr Duffy outlined how the former Taoiseach, who led the country as head of Fianna Fáil for 11 years, will not try to ignore what happened to the country.

"I think he will be honest and forthright about the damage that was done to the economy... He totally accepts that the collapse has had a major negative effect on every single household in Ireland,” he said.

“He will give indications as to why nobody realised that this gargantuan lorry that was coming down the road would do so much damage.”

Mr Duffy also said that he thinks that Mr Ahern will admit that keeping the financial regulator too separate from the Department of Finance on the run up to the banking collapse was a mistake.

“I think he definitely feels on reflection that if he had to do that again he probably wouldn’t do it,” said Mr Duffy.

Read more: Fianna Fáil in panic as defiant Bertie defends boom

Read more: Bertie: reeling in the years

The former advisor also said that Mr Ahern wasn’t the only one to blame for the financial crisis and that it was his status as a well-known, well-liked politician that caused people to be so angry with him.

“Because Bertie was so well known and liked people took it totally personally and he was blamed personally for the entire the catastrophe. There were many, many other people national and international who were involved,” he said.

Bertie Ahern left office as Taoiseach on 7 May, 2008, four months before the banks were guaranteed by the state, but his lengthy time as head of state make him a much-anticipated witness for the Banking Inquiry.

Mr Duffy defended Mr Ahern's poltiical career and said that he would "love to back in politics" if he was given the chance.

“He proved himself to be a superb negotiator of differences, whether that was in the national understandings, coming from the strike ridden early days coming down to Northern Ireland,” said Mr Duffy.

“I have no doubt that he would long to back using the talents he has,” he said.

Mr Ahern will appear before the seven TDs and four senators sitting on the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry committee at Leinster House tomorrow afternoon.

The questions put to him will focus on economic management in the boom years and the growth of dependence on building tax revenues.

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