Belfast Telegraph

Ahern shares regrets over economy

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he wished "somebody somewhere" had warned him about the looming economic catastrophe while he was in power.

On his last full day in the Dail, Mr Ahern also listed his failed attempt to build a national sports stadium - nicknamed the Bertie Bowl - among his biggest regrets.

The ex-Fianna Fail leader is among a string of high-profile figures in the beleaguered ruling party who are standing down from politics at the General Election next month.

Outside Leinster House, Mr Ahern said as leader of the country he would have loved it if someone had warned him about the impending banking crisis.

"I would have loved if somebody somewhere had told me what was going on in the banks in this country but nobody ever did," he said. "You get wise after the event."

The outgoing Dublin Central TD said the doomed national stadium project at Abbotstown, north Dublin - which foundered under spiralling costs - was one of the biggest disappointments of his career.

"Unfortunately, when I see little countries like Qatar and Kuwait and everyone in the World Cup talking about their tent stadiums, and we never succeeded in getting one national stadium," he told RTE radio. "That's an achievement I tried hard to do but I didn't get."

Mr Ahern said he would "kind of" miss the day-to-day cut and thrust of the Dail and would have liked to have bowed out at a time of lower unemployment and better economic growth.

Earlier this week at a Fianna Fail meeting to decide on election candidates, Mr Ahern said he felt no responsibility for the demise of his party, which is now languishing at 14% in the opinion polls.

"The party was strong - 42% - the day I left," he said."I wasn't around for the last three years to do too much about it."

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