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Bertie Ahern tells Fianna Fáil group that work needs to be done now ahead of unity poll

Former Taoiseach said politicians should find agreement on the smallest issues and build from there

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Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was speaking to Cosmhuintir Fianna Fáil, a grassroots organisation within the party, about the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was speaking to Cosmhuintir Fianna Fáil, a grassroots organisation within the party, about the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was speaking to Cosmhuintir Fianna Fáil, a grassroots organisation within the party, about the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland. Photo: Tony Gavin

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told a Fianna Fáil group last night that work needs to be done now with a view to a unity poll in the future.

Mr Ahern was speaking to Cosmhuintir Fianna Fáil, a grassroots organisation within the party, about the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland via Zoom.

The meeting mainly focused on Northern Ireland and Mr Ahern said that politicians should find agreement on the smallest issues and build from there.

Mr Ahern said there was sometimes too much focus on short-term issues and not enough medium-term or long-term focus.

Mr Ahern also said that a unity referendum might take place at the end of the decade and that work needed to be done in relation to it now.

He said that universities could be included as they could do research.

Mr Ahern spoke about two roles he holds in universities – he is Honorary Professor of Mediation Conflict Prevention in Maynooth University, while at Queens University Belfast he is Honorary Professor of Peace Studies. He explained how he gave lectures on both topics to PhD candidates.

Sources said he told the meeting he was still in touch with former US president Bill Clinton and former British prime minister Tony Blair and praised newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden.

He told the meeting that before the pandemic, he would make trips to Northern Ireland once a month.

He also commended the three-party coalition in government, and said all ministers were doing their best in difficult situations.

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The meeting had around 100 attendees, including TDs Marc MacSharry, James O’Connor, Jim O’Callaghan, John Lahart, John McGuinness, Padraig O’Sullivan and Senator Pat Casey.

The former Taoiseach will also be giving a Zoom discussion to the Donogh O’Malley Cumann in University College Cork on February 9.


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