Village Interview with Bertie Ahern

In an interview with Katie Hannon Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced his intention to stand down as Taoiseach before the end of the next Dáil term.

Katie Hannon: When will you retire?

Bertie Ahern: “I'm very clear in my mind and I have been for years that I'd stay active in politics until I'm 60…. and that brings us to 2012.” (In fact his 60th birthday is 12 September 2011. Which means he will be 60 one year earlier than he understands to be the case during the course of this interview)

But you won't necessarily stay on as Taoiseach until then?
“Not necessarily as Taoiseach. But if I win this election, well, you know how it is. You wouldn't want to give it up until you got to the last day. In 2012 I'll be 60.”

So he would stay on until the last day? Pushed for a date, he laughs and shrugs the question off: “Yeah, well the second last day.”

He says that his greatest political achievement is the Good Friday Agreement.
“Even though sometimes it was stalled in the institutions, the process never stopped over the 10 years. Lets be honest, it's been long and it's been time-consuming but at the end of the day it's been more important than most other things.

“Before I was even elected in 1977 I had a huge fascination with the trouble in the North. I used to read endless papers in ‘68, '69, 1970. I used to even cut out and keep the stories on the North. That was 38 years ago so I've always taken a huge interest in it. My view would have been very one-sided. I was republican and green. But when you get into it you realise that you don't solve anything doing that. You have to get to know the other side. And now I can most days, if I have to, ring up Ian Paisley and talk to him. Or Ian Paisley Jnr. Or other people in the DUP.
And I know most people in the UUP.

“I probably shouldn't say this but I probably was one of the few people who really liked David Trimble. I did like David Trimble. And quite frankly I knew nothing about opera and probably less about the Ulster canals but I worked at trying to. They were his two interests and it wasn't much good talking about Dublin football or the All Ireland.

“I worked at trying to at least try to have an intelligent conversation with the man. I did. My only knowledge of opera was I went to Wexford for a night out. I didn't understand a word of it…. I went ahead. It got in on me. That's why I gave the money to build a new Wexford Opera House. So that's the lasting legacy to David Trimble!”.

This is an edited version of the interview, the full version is available on