Tánaiste Micheál Martin appears to have changed his view on Bertie Ahern’s return to Fianna Fáil.
Though Ahern officially rejoined the party this week after resigning 11 years ago, his potential comeback was already being discussed several months before that.
In September of last year, Fianna Fáil leader and then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that he was open to the idea of Ahern returning to the party, due to the former Taoiseach’s contributions to the Good Friday Agreement.
“As far as I am concerned, it’s ten years on,” said Martin, when asked if he would allow Ahern to rejoin Fianna Fáil.
“I’m conscious of the contribution he has made to peace in the country. He made a very significant contribution.”
#VIDEO 'Bertie Ahern's concern around NI protocol very sincere', says Taoiseach Micheál Martin 4928455https://t.co/BAgtemztDX
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) September 16, 2022
However, this is very different to what Martin said around the time of Ahern’s split from the party.
Ahern resigned in 2012, as the Fianna Fáil executive was indicating it would expel him. This was in the aftermath of the Mahon Tribunal, which did not making findings of corruption against Ahern, but found that he did not truthfully account for payments of £165,000 that were made to accounts which were connected to him.
Though then-Taoiseach Ahern rejected the report’s findings, and has maintained that he did not break the law, this incident dealt substantial damage to his reputation.
In the aftermath of these findings, Micheál Martin said clearly that Ahern’s contributions to the Peace Process did not “absolve” him of the report’s findings.
“Achievements like the Good Friday Agreement are real, and enduring,” Martin said.
“But they cannot absolve Bertie Ahern from facing the implications of this tribunal report.”
Good Friday Agreement 'cannot absolve' Ahern on #Mahon implications, says Martin http://t.co/P23hVrMI #FiannaFail
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) March 23, 2012
Since Ahern’s return to the party this week, Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators appear to have embraced him with open arms, with numerous elected representatives expressing how “delighted” they are to have the ex-Fianna Fáil leader back in the party.
“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