Bertie Ahern has retired from public life, like many of his colleagues will shortly do against their will, in front of the people that brought him into political life – the O’Donovan Rossa Cumann, he joined 40 years ago
He made a long speech to friends, make of it what you will:
Today it is hard, and for some it seems impossible, to keep faith with Ireland’s tomorrow. I know and I understand that now we are in the eye of a great economic storm. People’s confidence has been knocked back. Plans for the future have been put on hold. Aspirations have been sundered. And for some, for those who have lost their jobs, there are truly difficult circumstances and really hard times.
I dearly wish there was no crisis. I realise that it would have been better if somethings had been done differently. But I will not denigrate the good that has been done, or belittle the effort it took to achieve it. The onward trajectory of this island’s destiny is forward-moving, it is progressive, it is the fairer and republican society we aspire to.
You that would judge me, do not judge alone/
This book or that, come to this hallowed place/
Where my friends’ portraits hang and look thereon,/
Ireland’s history in their lineaments trace,/
Think where man’s glory begins and ends/
And say my glory was I had such friends.