Thursday 18 January 2018

I'd return to politics if Ireland had vote on leaving EU: Bertie

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will get back into politics to campaign for a 'Remain' vote if a bid for Ireland to leave the EU started to gain momentum.

Mr Ahern said he is "sad and disappointed" by "a victory for Nigel Farage".

The ex-Fianna Fáil leader, talking on's 'Floating Voter' podcast, said he does not believe there is the political will for a similar referendum in Ireland, but added: "Certainly, if that happens, I'll come back into politics and start canvassing against it."

He was heavily critical of UKIP leader Nigel Farage and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He accused both men of not understanding the consequences of the Leave campaign, saying: "Farage, Johnson and some others believe they'll just go over to Brussels and get a deal that takes out everything they don't like about Britain and keep everything they like."

He added that there won't be "a happy ever after".

Mr Ahern described British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn's contribution to the Remain side as an "energetic non-campaign".

On the idea that the population in Northern Ireland should now be offered a poll on joining the Republic, he said it was too soon.

"I'm probably, more than anybody else, the one that has held it back this long. You'll see a big push for it now," he added. "I would rather it not, but sometime it's going to happen. The reason I didn't want it is that the result is obvious."

Responding to Mr Ahern's comment, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: "I think many people out there would come back.

"I've no doubt he would. I think many former Taoisigh, who have been at the coalface of international politics and Irish economic politics, would be equally very strong in supporting our continued membership of the EU."

Irish Independent

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