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Happy Bertie-day

• The much media-maligned former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is 60.



Even the private family celebration of this event could not escape attention from the Fourth Estate. Indeed, a former government minister felt the need to contact the national broadcaster to mildly protest at the prurient coverage.



Given that we live in a parliamentary democracy with elections by secret ballot constitutionally guaranteed every five years (if not more frequent for other reasons), the consistent venom directed by the media towards Mr Ahern is difficult to understand.



Were this venom replicated by voters at the ballot box a rationale for it could be discerned. But, look at the facts.



In the nine polls in his constituency of Dublin Central from 1981 to 2007 -- including the two in 1982 -- Bertie exceeded the quota on the first count in every one by very large margins.



In 2007, supposedly on his political uppers, he polled 12,734 first preferences votes, exceeding the quota by 5,809.



Given the attitude to Colonel Gaddafi and other unelected "tyrants" who are now thankfully under siege, it is hard to know what the commentariat really want: dictatorship or democracy.



Or is their real agenda to give out all the time and crank up the sense of national self-loathing?



Larry Dunne



Bray, Co Wicklow



• The television pictures of former ministers sidling into Croke Park to attend Bertie Ahern's 60th birthday party last Friday were enough to make one nauseous.



The fact that our former Taoiseach had to be secretly driven into his own party celebrations says much.



This Fianna Fail man up until very recently harboured ambitions to be our next President.



God save Ireland, indeed.



Jackie Smyth



Avondale Rd, Killiney, Co Dublin



•If we ever thought that the elite have any empathy with the struggling classes in this country, we need harbour this illusion no longer.



The Croke Park grand-standing by the Ahern clan shows their lack of regard for the rest of us.



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