What does Bertie Ahern’s return to Fianna Fáil mean?

What does Bertie Ahern’s return to Fianna Fáil mean?

The re-entry of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Fianna Fáil after a decade in exile is, in many ways, surprising.

But, in many others, it was inevitable.

He jumped from the party after the Mahon Tribunal found heavily against him regarding his financial affairs and, worse, it found him not to have given a truthful account of himself.

During the past decade, given his demise, he was unable to speak with any authority on the economy or the Celtic Tiger he helped create, given how spectacularly it crashed. But, the one sphere where his credibility was not in doubt has been on the North, and Ahern carved out a unique space in the wake of 2016’s Brexit referendum.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of the signing of the historic deal, Ahern’s role in that breakthrough has increasingly come back into focus.

As we reported in the Irish Examiner, Barry Cowen and Niall Blaney called for Ahern to be re-admitted at a meeting of the parliamentary party and what was significant was Micheál Martin’s response to that.

Rather than shut the door on such talk, as he has done for much of the past decade, Martin sang Ahern’s praises as to his previous work and, more importantly, his ongoing work with the unionist community in the North.

It did not go unnoticed that Ahern and Blair have been called back into service to aid the attempts to break the current impasse in getting the Stormont Assembly up and running.

Indeed, at last night’s Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, chairman Brendan Smith acknowledged Ahern’s continued efforts to seek a solution to the current issues. Others in the party including minister Sean Fleming, TD Cathal Crowe, and senators Erin McGreehan and Eugene Murphy all spoke warmly about Ahern’s re-admission to the party.

Others, speaking privately, joked that had he killed someone he’d have been readmitted sooner.

Momentum around his return has been building in recent months, with a number of TDs saying that Ahern’s work on the Good Friday Agreement should be marked ahead of the

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