Tuesday 24 April 2018

Day the fight went out of the man who once was king

Eamon Keane tells how he eventually broke through the Bertiespeak used by the former Taoiseach as a protective coil

'Ah jaysus, how are ye? Come in, sorry for keeping yez waiting."

Here was the King. The one who had led his party to three successive electoral victories. The one who had wrought peace in the North. The one who had Pied Pipered us into Celtic Tiger Ireland. Smaller than you thought, he sat there with that fixed smile. It was Valentine's Day, 2007. I was in the office of An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern with Paddy McDonnell, my radio producer.

A few hours earlier in the Dail, Tanaiste Micheal McDowell has attacked the Mahon tribunal, intimating that it could, in fact, be wound up. The media and Opposition were going crazy, saying that Bertie was putting McDowell up to it so that he would "avoid embarrassment".

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