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Coy Celia admits she's found love

CELIA Larkin's candid talk about the notches on Bertie's bedpost came after she found new love.

As Ahern's political isolation deepens, his former partner continues to rebuild her own life.

Ms Larkin, who jettisoned her loyalty to the former Taoiseach in a television interview, has indicated there is a new man in her life.

Asked when was the last time she got flowers, she laughed: "I suppose a couple of weeks ago."

But she refused to be pressed further on her budding relationship, saying: "Ah now, come on, please. I'm not saying anything on air."

In a TV3 interview she did admit that he isn't a country man. "I'm not discussing my private life on air."

She has accused Mr Ahern of being on a power trip when he was Taoiseach. But she has stated that she does not believe he was corrupt.

Mr Ahern's own position within the pantheon of Fianna Fail has been damaged further in recent weeks as the party has been moving to cut its links with their former leader.

Rank and file members are dismayed and angry at Mr Ahern as he continues to be a target for public resentment. His woes are expected to multiply when the Planning Tribunal Report publishes findings on his personal finances.

His 60th birthday celebrations are expected to be somewhat muted, although he is believed to have booked facilities in Croke Park for a birthday get-together on September 9.

In recent days, reports have highlighted his huge haul of €270,000 in expenses since resigning as Taoiseach. Micheal Martin described them as "excessive."Ahern himself has blamed Fianna Fail's unpopularity for damaging his presidential chances.

He has continued to criticised the Planning Tribunal, labelling tribunal evidence about his personal finances as "trash." He has pleaded that he is struggling with his €500,000 legal fees.

Party members are also unimpressed by his refusal to take personal responsibility for his role in the economic downturn.