Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been asked once again whether or not he will run for the Áras at the next presidential election.
The ex-Fianna Fáil leader, who officially rejoined the party in February after resigning 11 years prior, has been coy amid speculation that he may be gearing up for a run at the presidency in 2025.
Last month, during an interview on BBC Radio 4, Ahern said that he would “never say never” vis-à-vis a potential presidential run, but added that he felt it was “quite disrespectful” for people “to want to start a campaign until nearer the election time.” He also said that incumbent President Michael D. Higgins still has two and a half years in his term left to go.
However this week, he was asked the question again by Irish Examiner political correspondent Ciara Phelan, and once again refused to rule out a potential run.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has again refused to say whether he will run for President.
When put to him he was playing up to speculation he noted that I was "a young person" and asked me did I know when the next presidential election will be. https://t.co/LdU2KMQ8dQ
— Ciara Phelan (@ciaraphelan_) April 19, 2023
During a conference on Wednesday at Queen’s University Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Ahern explained his rationale for not answering the question directly.
“I’ll give you the reason,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“We’ve a convention in this country that the presidential election starts about three to four months out from the election.”
Much speculation has been buzzing around Ahern’s plans since as far back as September 2022, when it was revealed that both he and former British Prime Minister Sir Tony Blair had been working together to resolve various Brexit-related issues.
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern have been working together in the negotiations to solve some of the problems associated with Brexit, it has been revealed.#gripthttps://t.co/xZRxgK0cuQ
— gript (@griptmedia) September 12, 2022
After Ahern’s return to politics in February of 2011, numerous Fianna Fáil TDs expressed their “delight” to see him back in the party, citing his wealth of experience in the creation of the Good Friday Agreement in the 1990s.
“We don’t live in a cancel culture”: Fianna Fáil politicians are happy that Bertie Ahern is returning to the party, with one former minister claiming Ahern is still “hugely popular” with the general public.#gripthttps://t.co/FrlMBVFQbO
— gript (@griptmedia) February 9, 2023
Ahern initially resigned from Fianna Fáil back in 2012, while the party’s executive was indicating it would move to expel him. This decision was made in the aftermath of the Mahon Tribunal, which found that he did not truthfully account for payments of £165,000 that were made to bank accounts connected to him. The Tribunal did not make findings of corruption against Ahern, who was Taoiseach at the time.
The former Fianna Fáil leader rejected the report’s findings, and maintains that he did not break the law.
Last September, Fianna Fáil’s current leader and then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin seemed to indicate he was happy for Ahern to return to the party, saying “As far as I am concerned, it’s ten years on.”
He added: “I’m conscious of the contribution he has made to peace in the country – he made a very significant contribution,” in reference to the Good Friday Agreement.
However, in 2012, Martin had initially said that while Aherns achievements in the area of peace were “real and enduring,” they could not “absolve” him of “facing the implications” of the Tribunal.
Micheál Martin says he supports Bertie Ahern’s return to Fianna Fáil because of his contributions to the Good Friday Agreement. But previously, Martin said this “could not absolve” Ahern of the Mahon Tribunal’s findings:#gripthttps://t.co/4E8y5gnnVM
— gript (@griptmedia) February 10, 2023
Gript previously asked people in Dublin their thoughts on a potential Bertie Ahern presidential campaign, and if they would vote for the ex-Fianna Fáil leader. The link to that video can be viewed below.
"Would you vote for Bertie Ahern for president?": Irish people react to rumours of the former Taoiseach's run.https://t.co/iKIZpEjAgP pic.twitter.com/zUEqFskTms
— gript (@griptmedia) February 16, 2023