Listening to Ian Dempsey on Today FM this morning, once again I asked myself: Will this man ever reveal to the world his secret of eternal youth? I fully appreciate he might have to consult with Marty Whelan first, in order that they could agree a joint position…
Not loving Late Late…
And so (it is alleged), at some point between the first day and the end of the sixth day, while in a playful mood, God mischievously created his strangest concept yet. Then he sat back and observed it, smiling to himself.
But then he thought again. For, despite tinkering with aspects of his fun creation – at one stage even adding the earnestly positive Kerry Katona into the mix – God realised that he couldn’t really stand over his Late Late Valentine’s Show idea, that it was just too crazy. So, with commendable self-awareness, he hastily binned it, trusting that the humans would never come up with anything of that nature themselves in the future…
He’s back…The Man Who Won The Money On The Horses.
Mind you, he was also the Man Who Won Peace (and the man who won three general elections as Fianna Fáil leader).
When it comes to any review of Planet Bertie, it’s not straightforward. He mangled language, pulled the odd stroke, projected a ‘man of the people’ image when most of us knew he could be ruthless (and cunning)…and then his reputation took an absolute battering when the Mahon Tribunal exposed his very questionable financial dealings with property dealers and supporters.
Critics will condemn the record of his governments (Ahern was Taoiseach three times)…supporters will point to achievements.
After years of popularity and success, it ended in disgrace of sorts, with Ahern’s credibility shredded as the tribunal took a dim view of his financial shenanigans.
Over that era of tribunal-led washing of dirty linen in public, we learnt that Ahern didn’t have a personal bank account when he was…Minister for Finance. But there was lots of money flying around, cheques routinely cashed (as opposed to being lodged). It was bizarre. At one point, when pressed about 8,000 pounds sterling that was lodged to his daughters’ accounts, Bertie famously explained that he had won that money on the horses.
Ah sure you’d nearly feel nostalgic for his way with words!
Of that sometimes unconventional approach to his finances, Brazen Bertie said: “Some people put their hair yellow, some people put rings in their noses…I decided to cash my cheques, full stop”.
Ahern went from being a popular statesman to being ostracised.
I always felt he was a bit harshly treated. Moves by Fianna Fáil to expel him (in the end, he jumped before he was pushed) struck me as being more a tactical move by a party anxious to be seen to disassociate itself from ‘the tainted one’ than a fair and measured response to what had emerged.
Now he’s back, restored to the party again, just ahead of events which will mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. History will surely recognise that Ahern devoted enormous energy and political skill in his role as a key architect of that accord. It is difficult to overstate the enormity of his contribution.
Now the speculation begins about whether or not the returned prodigal son might actually be planning to run for president in 2025.
On Twitter, the keyboard warriors (some at least) are spitting fire, delving into their impressive reserves of venom.
I don’t know where they get their appetite for vengeance. Ahern was disgraced, his legacy is tainted, but he also achieved a lot, most notably historic progress in the pursuit of peace on this island.
Some of the angry mob (on Twitter) give the impression that he should be put in stocks in the town square, with copies of the Mahon Report thrown at him.
I take a more measured view. I see no issue with him rejoining Fianna Fáil. Why shouldn’t a former party leader and three-time Taoiseach be a member of the party? I acknowledge the positive contributions he made during his career, while also noting that he was talking horses**t much of the time at the tribunal.
As for the Áras, I don’t for a moment expect him to run. If he does, those who like him will vote for him – and those who don’t won’t!
It was another busy weekend on the sporting front. Unfortunately, Roscommon CBS suffered a heartbreaking single-point defeat to St Attracta’s of Tubbercurry in the Connacht Post Primary Schools Senior ‘B’ Final on Saturday. Hard luck to the players and management, who were so unlucky on this occasion.
The highlight of Saturday was of course that magnificent tussle between Ireland and France in the Six Nations, the home team winning a classic encounter.
Ireland are in superb shape just now, and their prospects of winning the Grand Slam look very strong indeed.
Closer to home again, Sunday’s defeat to Louth was a significant setback for Roscommon hurlers, a loss which was followed by the resignation of manager Francis O’Halloran.
There are a number of very dedicated people involved in promoting hurling locally. Very often over the years we have admirably punched above our weight. Hopefully the current downturn in fortunes is, to borrow a phase, a temporary little arrangement.
Tonight’s much-publicised RTE TV documentary on the great Liam Brady did not disappoint. The hour-long programme was a slick and nostalgic tribute to a wonderfully gifted footballer. Brady graced the game in England and Italy, and also had a very distinguished career with the Republic of Ireland.
He was magical. At his peak, he arguably might have walked – at his own pace of course – into any team in the world. Maybe I’m blinded, but I think not. The sublime John Barnes has described Brady as the greatest player ever “from this part of the world”. That’s better than Gascoigne, Hoddle, etc. See more of my views on the great Liam Brady on page 39.