“PRETTY desperate” is how Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry has described the idea that former taoiseach Bertie Ahern might return to the political ring with Fianna Fáil.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin made comments yesterday suggesting he would be open to allowing Mr Ahern back into the party.
Mr Martin said he has been engaging with the former taoiseach in recent times, particularly about issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol and on Wednesday evening, it was proposed during the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting that Mr Ahern should be allowed to make a return to the party as part of its plans to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Ahern resigned from Fianna Fáil in 2012 after the Mahon tribunal.
He made the move before Mr Martin sought to expel him from the party.
Mr Barry said:
“Fianna Fáil must be pretty desperate for new members these days if they’re shaping up to give Bertie Ahern a membership card. Micheál Martin should maybe consider asking Justice Mahon for his opinion before sealing this particular deal though.”
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said it felt like “a time warp”. He said: “It wouldn’t be right for me to be commenting on the membership of other political parties, that is up to their leadership and their membership, but in saying that, it is a reminder of where Fianna Fáil is in 2022.
“There was a perception out there, after the financial crisis, in 2008, that Fianna Fáil was changed and now it’s like a time warp, going back to 2007.
“The financial crisis really hurt people, it set the country into 10 years of austerity. You have people now, 15 years later, suffering as a result of Fianna Fáil’s catastrophic mismanagement.
“I think a lot of people will look at it as a regressive tactic. I think a lot of people will be disappointed by it.”
Mr Gould added; “Fianna Fáil under Micheál Martin’s leadership were looking to shake off the stigma of the financial crisis and the country was being run by the troika, We lost our sovereignty and to bring back the person who was taoiseach at the time... It’s for Fianna Fáil to make up their own mind, but for a lot of people it is the same old Fianna Fáil.”
Fine Gael TD Colm Burke suggested such a move would be good for Northern Ireland.
“I suppose in relation to Northern Ireland anything that can assist in getting the whole process in Northern Ireland back up functioning, the sooner it is done, the better for everyone.
“The Good Friday Agreement and all the good work that has been done over the years, seems to be at a standstill. The question is how do you get people who are very much entrenched, out of the trenches?
“I think [Mr Ahern] has a contribution to make, there is no question about that, but there are different players now compared to when he was involved, but he definitely has a contribution to make but should we be looking at an independent person to help move the situation forward.”
Mr Martin said: “In terms of Bertie Ahern, I have been engaging with Bertie Ahern actually over the last year and a bit, since the rows on the protocol, and he’s very involved in Northern Ireland issues, he maintains contacts with different groups.
“From my perspective, that level of consultation will continue because I think he has invaluable insights to all of that.”