Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Bertie Ahern quits Irish politics

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last night dramatically announced his retirement from politics and conceded he could have done some things differently.

But he now stands to draw down a massive pension. He will get a ministerial pension of around €98,000 (£84,000) and a TD's pension of around €48,000 (£41,000) — giving him around €146,000 (£125,000) a year.

Then he would also be entitled to a once-off lump sum of around €146,000 on retirement.

The Dublin Central TD's decision to retire ahead of the Republic’s general election, in which Fianna Fail is expected to suffer a huge loss of seats, was made during a speech to the party’s O'Donovan Rossa Cumann last night. In his address Mr Ahern acknowledged the economic turmoil being endured and the difficulties faced by so many in the Republic.

“I dearly wish there was no crisis. I realise that it would have been better if some things had been done differently,” he said.

“But I will not denigrate the good that has been done, or belittle the effort it took to achieve it.”

He insisted that Ireland is not “banjaxed” and is not an “economic corpse”, as has been previously claimed by Labour.

The former Taoiseach acknowledged that people's confidence had been “knocked back” and plans for the future put on hold given the economic and banking crisis which has unfolded since September 2009.

“But if these are difficult days, we can have a genuine confidence for the future based on the real, the sustainable and the lasting gains which Ireland has made. Yes some gains have been lost, but in truth many remain,” |he added.

“The truth is that our country will recover. We will regain our stride and we will succeed in |holding on to many of the gains we have made together,” he said.

The former Taoiseach said it had always been his plan to retire at the age of 60 and this was an “unalterable position”.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen paid tribute to Mr Ahern, who now joins a number of other high profile Irish politicians bowing out of politics ahead of the general election.

Mr Cowen described his predecessor as “without question the consummate politician of our |generation in this country”.

“He is a person of rare ability and extraordinary talent. He has an immense work ethic and he is a superb negotiator.”

The Taoiseach thanked Mr Ahern for all his work and contributions to the peace process, and claimed Irish people will “always hold him in high esteem”.

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