Bye-Bye Bertie

23:56 Thu 03 Apr 2008
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I was surprised by the news that Bertie Ahern, the Teflon Taoiseach, is resigning. Fittingly, I received this news via a text from a friend.

I knew that Ahern was under investigation for various alleged improprieties, and that things looked rather bad—he’d long since admitted signing blank checks for Charlie Haughey, he’d accepted a number of “gifts” from business figures, and he claimed not to have had a bank account while he was Minister for Finance.

However, these revelations did nothing to his popularity. In fact his approval numbers might have gone up. Apparently a great deal of the Irish population felt that he was just doing what anyone’d do in the same circumstances, and so he charges actually aided his “everyman” appeal.

Nevertheless, it looks like he’s hit the end of the road. I’m not sure what will happen to him from here, and I’m curious as to whether he’ll be able to fade into the background (if that’s even what he wants/intends).

I’m not sad to see him go, but I never loathed him the way I loathed some of his predecessors—Haughey, for example. And Albert Reynolds was somehow more objectionable than Bertie, even if a review of their actual deeds might not support that claim.

I’d be happier about his departure if I felt that it had meaning, that it meant something significant in the fight against corruption in Ireland. But I’m not sure that it does, I think graft is endemic, and thoroughly baked into the culture of Fianna F´il (and many of the other parties too), and that none ofthat will be significantly changed by this development. I’d love to be wrong.

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