That name rings bell, but it's for the wrong Taoiseach

Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor

GOVERNMENT bungling means the Department of the Taoiseach is still suggesting to callers that Bertie Ahern is in charge.

Two phone numbers in the 01-area directory for Brian Cowen's department feature recorded messages that explain how to get in contact with Bertie Ahern.

The voice recordings on the numbers 6621010 and 6621011 for the 'Taoiseach's constituency office' do not direct callers to Tullamore -- but to Drumcondra.

Although certain to be changed now, the answering messages have been treating Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach for four months since his resignation, and three months since Brian Cowen officially acceded to the highest office in the land.

"Thank you for ringing the office of An Taoiseach," announces the message, before going on to supply another number for "Bertie Ahern's constituency office".

Meanwhile, on the flip side of the coin, it seems some people can't even remember what former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern actually looks like.

A trading card featuring Mr Ahern has been up for auction for a week on eBay, and nobody has thrown in a bid.

The card, from an American series of 'World Leaders of 2008', is already out of date -- Brian Cowen having seized the throne.

But that's perhaps not why nobody has had a nibble at the auction, which ends today, despite its mere $1.99 starting price.

Instead, it's probably got something to do with the fact that the person depicted as the leader of Ireland is anyone but our Bertie.


The Topps Allen & Ginter's 2008 card -- auction number 300249955660 -- features a map of Ireland in brown, with Northern Ireland in orange.

And alongside is someone even more difficult to recognise.

But last night it was revealed as an image of Hans Pottering, president of the European Parliament.

This raises the disquieting question: Has Brussels secretly taken over this country in revenge for our rejection of the Lisbon Treaty?

The Topps organisation, which has an Irish presence in Cork, admitted yesterday that it had made a mistake.

The 'Leaders' series originated with its New York parent firm and the error had the firm -- renowned for its baseball cards -- profuse with apologies.

"We are investigating how this regrettable error came about," a company source said. "Topps rightly prizes its reputation for accuracy and the matter is under investigation."

Other cards in the series are recognisable as the person depicted, although Ehud Olmert (Israel) has also recently resigned, while George W Bush is unmistakably on his way out of office.