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Proud family rallies around 'super grandpa'

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Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is pictured with former wife Miriam and daughters Cecelia, left, and Georgina

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is pictured with former wife Miriam and daughters Cecelia, left, and Georgina

Bertie Ahern pictured with his daughter Georgina, twins Jay and Rocco, and her husband Nicky

Bertie Ahern pictured with his daughter Georgina, twins Jay and Rocco, and her husband Nicky

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Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is pictured with former wife Miriam and daughters Cecelia, left, and Georgina

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern discussed his plans to resign with his family before making his public announcement.

His estranged wife Miriam and his eldest daughter Georgina both issued messages of support in the wake of his shock resignation announcement yesterday.

In a short statement, Miriam, with whom he still remains on good terms, declared: "I am sad about Bertie leaving office at this moment, but I am very proud of what he achieved."

Georgina added: "I admire my dad and I am very proud of all his achievements. He's an exceptional man -- dad and super grandpa. I am happy that he is happy with his decision."

And her husband Nicky Byrne, of pop band Westlife, revealed the announcement had not come as a surprise to Mr Ahern's family.

"It's a sad day for the country. But myself, Georgina and our extended families are happy for him. He had taken enough. I believe he did great service for the country. He spoke to Georgina and Cecelia a couple of days ago about his intentions, so it wasn't a huge surprise," he said.

"They're both so proud of him and we all feel that his legacy will live on. Personally, I think he had another good year left in him.

"I think he's a great man with an amazing work rate. I'd sometimes ask him for advice and he always just told me to 'keep battling on.' But I think it all got to him, he could do no more.

"It's hard being in the public eye when you hear there's going to be something on you on the front page of the next day's paper. Your heart really beats -- I know what it's like myself. And he had to endure all this for the last year-and-a-half."

Nicky said his father-in-law enjoyed the simple things in life.

"He never wanted a flash lifestyle. And I've never seen him get angry. He holds his dignity well. I think he'll be a lot happier now, we're all happy for him. But it's a sad day, the end of an era really. I believe he's confident that he's done his country proud.

"The onslaught just became too much for him. It's a shame that it all came to this. He became my friend and also a friend to my family. He's also brilliant with our twin boys Jay and Rocco. He's a genuinely good man.

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"I don't know what he'll do now. I'm sure he'll have offers coming his way, maybe in the GAA or something.

"He did all he did for his party and his country. They could drag him down, but they couldn't drag down his party or his country."

Nicky admitted that he would never be able to contend with a life in politics -- and that if Georgina ever wanted to enter the political fray he'd divorce her.

He added: "It's been an emotional few weeks for everyone. But I could see it coming. I'd text him or phone him to ask how he was doing. He'd call back and say he was fine and ask how we all were.

"He was married to politics. He sweated blood for Ireland. We've had no amount of people calling us, declaring their sadness and support for him since the announcement."


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