Clinton: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.” #GFA20

Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”

GFA 20 Years On: A Community Reflects

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD will be in West Belfast next Tuesday, 10th April, to deliver a keynote opening address at a Féile an Phobail event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The event, titled ‘The Good Friday Agreement 20 Years On: A Community Reflects’ will take place in St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road beginning at 8.45am, and will also feature keynote speeches and contributions by former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, … Read more

Fianna Fail must not make the same mistake with Bertie, that Labour have with Blair

1st May 2017, marked the 20th anniversary of the election of Tony Blair as British Prime Minister. For the current Labour Leadership, a huge part of their existence is owed to a repudiation of the Blair years with its mix of missed opportunities and misadventures such as the War in Iraq. Fianna Fail and Ireland face another anniversary over the coming weeks as the 6th June marks the 20th anniversary of the 1997 General Election which brought Bertie Ahern to … Read more

“…if you want trouble again in the north play that game. It’s a dangerous game”

There’s been some focus on the comments at the weekend by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warning about any attempt to “force” a border poll in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  His remarks are placed in a wider context by the fuller quote in the Belfast Telegraph. Speaking on Newstalk radio, the former Irish prime minister said: “The idea of a border poll… was put there when when I was conceding Articles two and three of the constitution and we were giving … Read more

Ahern: IRA allowed continue to prevent vacuum

Since he left office in 2008, Bertie Ahern rarely ventures into the spotlight or gives any real in-depth comments about Northern Ireland. However, even his most ardent critics would acknowledge his role in bringing about the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreement. Today he as spoken to Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times about the current crisis in Northern Ireland. Kelly gives his introduction; Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it was envisaged the Provisional IRA would continue to exist … Read more

Putting a narrative on your political past.

The past is always a difficult thing for parties to deal with. The Tories for example, wrestled for years with how they should deal with the Thatcher legacy and modernise themselves to represent a Britain that had socially changed going into the 21st century. Closer to home this very same problem is impacting on Fianna Fail today. The party suffered an all mighty hammering at the polls in 2011 due to the economic collapse and the several austerity budgets that … Read more

In Government or howling at the moon? Coalition politics in Ireland

We are fast approaching the next Irish general election and this one is likely to be a real squeaker in terms of which combinations win enough seats to form a stable government. The latest polls show us a couple of things; Fine Gael (unless they fight a terrible campaign) will be the largest party. Sinn Fein will come third. The local elections showed the trend towards the party and it is very unlikely at this stage that Labour will over … Read more

What is Sinn Fein’s path to victory next year in the Irish general election?

Jonny’s post about when Enda Kenny might call the election got me thinking about just how the next election might pan out for each of the parties. The next election is such a hard one to call as the old certainties have gone out the window. Not since 1926 have there been so many unknown variables in the contest that could impact the outcome. The rise of Sinn Fein as a serious force in Irish politics has thrown everything up … Read more


Unnerving. This is a must read in today’s Irish Times. It was originally printed last week in the German newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. Entitled, ‘Conned’: a German view of Ireland, it gives an insight into the ‘conning’ of Ireland – over several decades – by its political masters with some added comment and footnotes by Derek Scally. Drawing a line through failures to negotiate an equitable fisheries deal with the EEC in 1973, through Ray Burke and Bertie Aherns giveaway of … Read more

SF adopting the Bertie Ahern ‘whatever you’re having yourself’ approach to policy?

There’s a lot of interesting response to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, but one of the most intriguing was this from Liam Clarke… The snap survey of 50 members, conducted by the ‘Belfast Telegraph’, shows surprisingly sharp divisions on several key issues. On dissidents, a picture emerged that showed grassroots attitudes are not as strongly opposed to such republican terrorism as the party leadership. Party members were asked if an armed campaign was justified while British rule remained. Some 26pc … Read more

‘Dropping Bertie’ also denudes Fianna Fail of the very best of its recent history…

Even if Bertie Ahern’s resignation offers Micheal Martin a useful tribal head on a plate, Noel Whelan notes that it also robs the party of some of the best of its recent history: Ahern led Fianna Fáil for 14 of the last 17 years. He has defined the party in the modern age and has done so in a positive and popular way for most of the time he was leader and taoiseach. In distancing itself from Ahern, Fianna Fáil … Read more

“But throughout, his government and party turned a blind eye…”

In the Irish Times the peerless Miriam Lord tackles Micheál Martin’s “swift and decisive” response to the Mahon Tribunal report.  From the Irish Times article SPARE US your indignation, Micheál Martin. Button your disgust, Fianna Fáil. We don’t want to hear it. You had your chance and you chose to do nothing. So don’t pretend to be shocked now. Just do us that much. We won’t buy it. If the tribunal were to take another 15 years to deliver its … Read more

#af12 “No. No interest, feck ’em.”

It appears that the truth is very slow to dawn on some people. The gates had to be closed as early as 2.25 pm and there were huge queues outside the RDS on the day, but The Examiner gets pretty close to the actual optics of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis: The queues on Saturday were not for the ard fheis but for the nearby Working Abroad Expo. It goes on to do some vox pops on what those attending … Read more

“One step forward. Two steps back. Very awkward.”

In the Irish Times, the peerless Miriam Lord with a useful corrective to more enthusiastic witnesses of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis at the weekend.  From the Irish Times article. IT WAS all terribly awkward. An excruciating comedy of manners where the anxious principals were petrified they might say the wrong thing and upset the whole country, again, while simultaneously fretting about bumping into embarrassing old acquaintances who would make a show of them. The tense undercurrent made for an odd … Read more

Bertie Ahern: “If you ask me, my view is you’re better doing it my way…”

Now that the notorious gambler, and former Taoiseach, Bertie ‘Lucky’ Ahern, has confirmed his decision not to contest the next Irish general election he obviously feels freer to be critical of his party colleagues in government.  From the Belfast Telegraph report Mr Ahern, a columnist for the Irish News of The World, told the newspaper Mr Cowen’s administration failed to communicate properly with the public throughout the crisis. He said he carried out daily doorstep interviews with the media when he led … Read more

The fool, the fools….by his friends you know him

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 … Read more

“But one hopes for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland..”

Out-going Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s declaration to the US Congress yesterday, live-blogged by Shane, that “Ireland is at peace” [in our time? – Ed] could be viewed as a declaration of the end of US political involvement here.. Maybe.. Mary Alice Clancy emailed a link to a March 2008 article by her Phd thesis examiner, Brendan Simms, of the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge and co-President of the Henry Jackson Society, which sketches out the international dimension, … Read more