Tag Archives: bertie ahern

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

This magnifying glass

belongs to Mrs Tin. I have no idea why she owns it, perhaps she’s a consulting detective in her spare time, it would certainly explain why she keeps telling me that the game is afoot, and why she knows the times of all the trains to Devon.

Anyway, yesterday I had a rant at our former leader, calling him, among other things, an odious little toad.

I don’t regret the post in any way, and in fact here, through Mrs  Tin’s magnifying glass (and it’s far harder to do than I thought it would be), is a photo of the post again, my ode to my contempt and loathing for this dreadful man:

It’s malice, through a looking-glass.

Weekly Drawing Challenge – Through

In yesterday’s post I used this phrase:

“Let me present Batman – the Dark Knight, Thor – the Thunder God, and Robin – the Guy Who Looks Good On Christmas Cards.”

In the first draft (yes, I do edit this stuff, even if it doesn’t look like it) between Thor and Robin I had “Bertie – the Disgraced Liar”. I took it out in the end because most of you that read this aren’t from Ireland and so wouldn’t understand it, and because it was a pretty feeble attempt at political satire in any case.

On Thursday a Tribunal of Inquiry into corruption in our planning system found that our ex Prime Minister Bertie Ahern had lied to it about large sums of money which he received, firstly when he was Minister for Finance and then when he held the most powerful position in our land.

Most of us knew this, of course. The evidence that he gave to the Tribunal was funnier and more imaginative than anything I ever written. He explained two lodgements of £22,500 and £16,500 as loans (or “dig-outs”, as he called them) from his friends because they felt he was hard up after his marriage break-up, although he had over£70,000 in cash at the time. He said that he was at a dinner in Manchester after being at a football match, was asked to say a few words and the listeners were so impressed that they had a whip-around and presented him with £8,000 sterling (had this been a fee for speaking he would, of course, have had to pay tax on it). He denied that he ever received any other sterling, ever, and when it was pointed out to him that lodgements of £15,500 to accounts belonging to himself and his daughters were definitely sterling he suddenly remembered that he had won it betting on races in UK.

$45,000 was lodged into one of his accounts. He simply denied that he had ever received dollars from anyone.

This odious little toad, by the way, was our leader when the property bubble which has led to the destruction of our economy began. He was on first-name terms with the chairman of the bank that collapsed most spectacularly, and for which we (population 4 million) have to pay out a promissory note debt worth €3.06 billion (€3,060,000,000) before next Friday.

Several people I know have lost their jobs. Our company had to impose pay cuts on all of us and let 25 people go.

Some of my children will probably have to emigrate. I may one day have grand-children that I see only once a year or so.

Ahern chickened out of facing the voters in the last General Election, where his party was massacred. That party began moves this week to expel him (something never before done to a former leader) at a meeting to be held next Friday. He chickened out of that too, by resigning from the party last night.

He is through.

My attempt at drawing him captures little of his smirk, of lips that were so quick to tighten into a thin line of repressed rage whenever he was asked a difficult question. About the only thing that I’ve captured is his almost cylindrical head, so like the buckets of cash with which he ran his life.

So no jokes today, just a venting of my contempt for one of the most self-serving, money-grabbing, deceitful creatures to ever infect politics in our country.

A recent challenge, which I never got around to doing, was “Distorted”, so I’m using today’s post to cover that too.

But it’s not my drawing I’m talking about.

Mea Culpa

It’s reported in today’s papers that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has accepted some of the responsibility for our current economic crisis.

In other news, Mrs O’Leary’s cow admitted that kicking over her lantern may have contributed to the Great Fire of Chicago, Buffalo Bill Cody acknowledged that shooting all the buffalo might be part of the reason why there are no more buffalo, and a Mr A. Hitler of Germany agreed that the Second World War may have been partly his fault.

Just To Clarify….

Having read this yesterday, about the Irish blogger who’s had to pay out €100,000 for libel, I’ve gone back over my posts for 2010 so far and would like to make the following points absolutely clear:

  • The Met Office are remarkably accurate in their forecasts. Given the wide range of possible types of weather (it can be dry OR wet) it’s astonishing that they’re right as often as they are.
  • The guy in the Vodafone ad who created a white Christmas for his girlfriend is obviously a loving and sensitive person. Any girl would love a hundred tons of fake snow in their garden as opposed to, say, jewellery or a flight somewhere. And the word “Crimbo” is perfectly acceptable. Should be word of the year, in fact.
  • A trip on an 84 Bus is a warm, smooth, pleasant experience, one which I readily embrace whenever the Dart breaks down (which is very seldom, never due to incompetence, and only due to acts of God).
  • As we now have a Blasphemy Law as well, can I say that God’s acts are generally a Good Thing.
  • Journalists are a higher life-form than we humble bloggers. If they say blogging is dead, then it is, and those of us who think we are still blogging are obviously wrong.
  • Bankers are hard-working, well-meaning souls who deserve everything that they have coming to them. I want to assure them that, no matter what the banking enquiry turns up,  I will not think any less of them than I do now.

And finally, Bertie. I may have given the impression that I found some of his explanations for his money to be a touch far-fetched. If I didn’t, then I certainly meant to.

A Book at Bert-time

The Revenue Commissioners have granted tax-exempt status to the proceeds of sales of Bertie Ahern’s autobiography, on the grounds that it has “cultural or artistic merit”.

They don’t usually grant this to books that are factual, or they’d have to give it to school textbooks, the telephone directory and the Dublin Bus Timetable (ok, not that one). Therefore they obviously reckon that Bertie’s book is a work of fiction.

And the news that you can write fiction about Bertie and get tax-free dosh for it has attracted the attention of other authors, as these forthcoming publications show….

The Great Bertsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is the tale of a man of unexplained wealth who spends much of his time gazing at a light at the end of a dock, when he isn’t giving evidence in one. The story ends tragically when Bertsby is attacked in Tara Street Baths by a deranged man, or “loolah”, as he calls him.

De Damned United, by Nick Hornsby. The hilarious tale of Bertie’s brief reign as manager of Manchester United, where he turned them from being the envy of Europe (they were known as the Celtic Tigers, much to the annoyance of Celtic) into a second-division laughing stock. This was mainly due to his incomprehensible instructions to his players, and to his insistence on finding room for Ray Burke in his team. Mr Hornsby is working on another book, The Really Damned United, which tells of what happened next, when Bertie’s assistant Brian Cowen took over instead. As the team sank lower and lower he declares himself happy with their situation (“we are where we are”), blames everything on the rest of the world (“sure Real Madrid are shite too”) and then sells all his players off cheaply to new club Nama Academicals during the January transfer window.

The Secret Life of Bertie Mitty, by James Thurber. The story of a daydreamer who imagines himself as a great statesman, a socialist, a man of modest needs, a sports journalist, just an ordinary Joe. Supposedly funny, but actually just sad.

Celia Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. This tells the story of young Celia and her love for the powerful and mysterious Mr Ahern. Since he is already married in his heart to wealth, popularity and Drumcondra  the romance is doomed from the start, and all poor Celia gets out of it is the odd cheap house. She finally ends the relationship with the by now immortal line “Reader, I nutted him”.

Smokes, Daggers… and Darts

I read that our glorious ex-leader Bertie Ahern is to become a sports columnist for the News of the World.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have rushed to give work and therefore credibility to a man who basically lost his job because his tales of how he came by large and unexplained sums of money became so laughable that even his own party could no longer stand by him. He has written for the Irish Times, presented the Gaelic games programme The Road to Croker and had the four-part series Bertie screened about him, and indeed appeared in it.

In fact, at one stage he was on TV so often that I suggested that he was to get his own TV Channel (what? yes, I’m doing repeats. It’s the summer, that’s what happens. Haven’t you seen the TV schedules?). Most sycophantic and cringemaking of all though, was his appearance as Guest Panellist Number One in a series of , well, one, on RTE’s soccer programme The Premiership. During this he referred to Liverpool’s Michael Owen (then a gigantic star, at the height of his powers) as Michael Owens, so expect his new column to feature several references to golfer Tiger Wood.

And my reference to Tiger hints at the root of the Bertster’s possible future problems. We know he loves the Dublin Gaelic Football Team, we know he supports Manchester United, and his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal – that large sterling lodgements to his bank accounts were the proceeds of horse-racing winnings – tell us that his knowledge of the Sport of Kings is beyond compare (unless he was lying to the Tribunal, and surely not). However, a knowledge of three sports doth not a sports journalist make. Does he think, for example, that England should play an extra seam bowler in the Ashes test at Yelena in Bertie postHeadingley tomorrow? Were the All Blacks wrong to try to run the ball from everywhere against South Africa last Saturday (sorry LK)? And what now of the chances of my beloved Yelena in the pole vault at the World Athletics Championships next week, now that  Svetlana Feofanova has had to withdraw because of a leg injury?

I reckon that I know a fair bit about ten or twelve different sports, but wouldn’t presume for one second that I’d have enough knowledge to write a sports column. As long as he receives money and is in the public eye, however, Bertie seems quite happy to take on a job that he’s not going to be any good at.

After all, as the 400,000 people now on the dole will tell you, it won’t be the first time.

Yet Another Birthday


This blog is one year old today.

I can now celebrate the day I was born (my birthday), the anniversary of the day I got my pacemaker (Tinman’s birthday) and the anniversary of the day I started this (my blog birthday).

This means I have more birthdays than the Queen.

Therefore I’m entitled to have an Honours List.

mary-hanafinThe MBE (Miserable Bastard Entity): From a lengthy list of contenders (honourable mention here to Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe) I’ve chosen Social Welfare Minister Mary Hanafin, for the decision to scrap the bonus payment to Welfare Recipients at Christmas. She keeps saying that at least she didn’t reduce the rate, but scrapping the bonus week IS a 2% cut, and her refusal to accept that is typical of the type of word manipulation that Ministers are still using, failing to see that it’s this type of crap that’s so infuriating the electorate. Anyway, she’s altered the entitlement of pensioners to medical cards, and shortened the length of time for which you can collect Jobseekers Benefit, so she has reduced benefits, no matter what she says.

michael-fingletonThe OBE (Obnoxious Banker Entity): Yet another category in which the shortlist is actually a long list. Brian Goggin, outgoing Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland for example, for bemoaning the fact that his salary fell to below 2 million last year, and for the fact that, although he has retired as Chief Exec, he’s remaining on the staff of the bank till June, so he’ll qualify for his full pension. Seanie Fitz, of course, for single-handedly bringing our banking system to its knees through his reckless and quite frankly corrupt business practices at Anglo Irish Bank. The honour goes to Michael Fingleton though. The fact that he tried to pay himself a €1 million bonus despite having presided over a loss of €243 million shows that he has no understanding of what a bonus should actually mean, and was simply using Irish Nationwide as his own piggy-bank. The fact that Irish Nationwide facilitated Seanie Fitz in hiding his Anglo Irish Loans from the stock market is another shining example of the ethical standards of this man.

yelena-1st-birthdayThe CBE (Cute Babe Entity): Ah, Yelena. It’s been over three months since I’ve thought of an excuse to post a picture of her, but she is far from forgotten in my heart, and now that the athletics season is returning you can expect to see lots more photos of her midriff. Or sometimes her bum.

The Nighthood (Because they’re blood-sucking vampires): The politicians of this country, for clinging with their vampire teeth to their outrageous collection of benefits, add-ons and expenses, while all the while telling us that we must all accept the pain together. Chief among them though is Brian Lenihan, for continually trying to give the impression that they are actually taking cuts when in fact they are doing no such thing.

And finally, for running our country into the ground with his throw-money-at-everything-approach to government, for accepting handouts from anyone willing to give them to him, for allowing his poor secretary to attend a tribunal and try to back up the lies he was telling about never having lodged sterling into his account, for then attacking the tribunal when they exposed these lies, for finally trying to explain the money away by saying he won it on horses, and for his overall contribution to increasing the level of contempt and distrust with which politicians and therefore politics itself are held in this country, Bertie Ahern is being made a Dame, because, well, there is nothing like him.

A True Blue Dub

In the 1980s Dublin City councillors voted not to award the Freedom of Dublin to Bob Geldof, apparently because the song “Banana Republic” annoyed them.

geldofliveaidMany of the city’s political elite at that time later went on to play starring roles in a variety of tribunals and investigations into planning irregularities and corruption, but in their eyes, they were decent Dubliners, and Geldof was not.

He did, 20 years later, eventually get the award, but now he has not made the top ten of all-time greatest Dubliners.

The online poll, conducted by the Dubliner magazine, was won by Ronnie Drew, and other people in the top ten included James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Guinness.

Notable Dubs all. But Bob Geldof founded Band Aid and Live Aid, raised countless of millions of dollars and devoted years of his life to highlighting and fighting world poverty.

Apparently though, this is not as impressive as discovering the quaternion (William Rowan Hamilton), being good-looking (Colin Farrell – well why else is he in?), or not being born in Dublin at all (Phil Lynott, born in West Bromwich in the UK).

I just don’t get it. Especially since, as if Live Aid weren’t enough, his most famous quote (“just give me your fuckin’ money”) was later adopted by Bertie Ahern as the basis for his whole political career.

If that didn’t get him recognition, I don’t know what could.

Man of the People

An Ordinary Joe

An Ordinary Joe

I think it’s the fact that Bertie Ahern told George Hook in a radio interview that he wants to be addressed as “Iar-Taoiseach”, meaning “Former Taoiseach” that has finally driven me over the edge regarding this infuriating man.

Ahern pointed out that former Presidents of the United States always retain their honorific title, being known as President Clinton or President Carter.

“During the summer I was down with the gaeilgoirs in Kerry and they couldn’t understand, if for all your career you have the word Taoiseach, why do you change when you are the former Taoiseach. So they said that I should use the word Iar-Taoiseach, which means former Taoiseach, so that’s what I’m doing.”

None of the previous ten ex-Taoisigh, including even the power-obsessed Haughey, tried to pull this stunt. But perhaps none of them were made to feel as special as he has since he resigned as Taoiseach.

He’s had a nice new office near Leinster House renovated for him at a cost of €220,000 (while the average cost of a house in Ireland is €272,946), although he has so many speeches and lectures planned that it’s not clear now often he’ll use it. He is to be one of the guest speakers at Hectors’Long Christmas Lunches in the Mansion House, and tickets for his lunch are one-third dearer than for those of Jason Byrne or Risteard Cooper. RTE had him as a guest presenter on ‘The Road to Croker’. The Irish Times got him to write a “what I did on my summer holidays” essay. He’s going to write a book.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that this man was forced out of office after his evidence to the Mahon Tribunal became just too laughable for even the most faithful to believe. After his former secretary (sorry, iar-secretary) Gráinne Carruth was reduced to tears in the witness box as she tried to back his story in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. After he explained hitherto unmentioned sterling amounts by referring to winnings on UK horse races. After he claimed to have had no bank accounts for a number of years, and then embraced the idea of a bank account so firmly that he was involved in 26 different accounts just six months later. After he claimed to keep wads of cash in his office safe, and then just to grab a fistful of it at random and hand it uncounted to whoever happened to be around to lodge it into whatever of his accounts they felt like. After he claimed to have got dig-outs from friends at a time when he had over fifty thousand in savings. After it transpired these dig-outs arose because his friend and solicitor, in an astonishing breach of client confidentiality, told his other mates that he was stuck for money to pay his legal bill to, yes, that solicitor. After he said that he made a speech after a dinner in Manchester, and was handed £8,000 without having asked for it (because if he’d asked for it, it would be a fee and therefore be taxable). After he said he was not the owner of the B/T account, yet the only major payment ever to go out of it was to his girlfriend to enable her to buy a house.

In short, after it became clear that, while in one of the best-paid and most influential jobs in the state, he accepted huge sums of money from anybody and everybody who was willing to give it to him.

Some people think this behaviour is irrelevant. They say “things were different then. It was a different culture.” Or they say “well, look at the job he did with the country”.

But things weren’t different then. Corruption was illegal and morally wrong in the 1980s, just as it is now. And if things were different then, why are Revenue still pursuing people over money that they hid away during those days? And as for the “look at the job he did” argument, this is the kind of ‘High Chieftain’ argument that was also used in Haughey’s case. It’s effectively saying that they’re better than we are, so they should be entitled to different treatment.

And besides, look at the job he did do with the country. He did a wonderful job on the North, and it was agreed by all of the rest of Europe’s leaders that he was fantastic when Ireland held the EU Presidency, getting agreement between the states on issues that everyone had thought unsolvable. His commitment to work is beyond question also, as shown by his return to the Good Friday talks directly from his mother’s funeral.

But look at the country now. He was leader while McCreevy and Cowen fuelled a property boom that filled the pockets of the Galway Races brigade, but left the middle classses struggling with giant mortgages, and now facing an unsure future thanks to the fact that it has all blown up. He managed a period of stability simply by throwing money at everything, backing down every time anything was threatened that might make him unpopular. The public service has swelled in numbers. He allowed McCreevy to come up with the ridiculous decentralisation idea, and stuck blindly with it even after it became clear that it’s just not going to work. And somehow our schools and hospitals are as badly funded as they were when we were poor.

Checking on Ray Burke

Checking on Ray Burke

Worst of all, though, he has damaged democracy in this country by helping to fuel cynicism toward politics and politicians.  He appointed Ray Burke and Liam Lawlor to senior posts when eveyone knew they were corrupt. He defended Beverly Flynn, and welcomed her back into Fianna Fáil, suggesting she might be a minister one day. He made Ivor Callely, who had to resign after getting his house painted free, a Senator after the electorate rejected him in the General Election. He appointed three additional Junior Ministers on salaries of €150,000 each, just so he could keep more of his party happy. He defended and finally just deferred (not scrapped) his €38,000 pay increase, which would have made his salary higher than George Bush.

He lauded Charles Haughey, saying at his funeral: ‘He was a consummate politician… The definition of a patriot is someone who devotes all their energy to the betterment of their countrymen. Charles Haughey was a patriot to his finger tips.’ He helped ensure the defeat of Lisbon with his reference to opponents as ‘Loo-lahs’. He scathingly attacked anyone who questioned the safety of the proposed electronic voting system, calling them ‘luddites’ and saying he was ‘ashamed’ after he watched the French election that we were still using the ‘peann luaidhe’, and even after experts that he appointed said the system wasn’t safe he still attacked the opposition.

He made Conor ‘Kebabs’ Lenihan Minister for Immigration. He admitted that he did appoint people who gave him money to State Boards, but said “I appointed them because they were friends, not because of anything they had given me”. He said his biggest regret on leaving office – in a country who’s economy is falling apart, where gang-realted killings are now an everyday occurence, and where women have died because they’d been misdiagnosed as cancer-free – is that he never got to build the Bertiebowl, blaming “small-minded people” for opposing the project.

That last bit is one of the things I remember most about him – his sneering spitefulness whenever he felt he was being attacked, and his quickness to hide behind his position. To insult him was to insult the office of Taoiseach, he’d be quick to tell you.

This self-proclaimed man-of-the-people, who had the gall to call himself a socialist, now sees himself as some sort of super-statesman, deserving of a title all of his own and the undying respect and devotion of the Irish people.

Stick it in your iar, Bertie.

BBC (Bertie’s Big Channel)

Bertie TV

Bertie TV

Those who worried that Bertie Ahern would starve now that he has resigned as taoiseach need have had no fear.
RTE have announced that Bertie will be a guest host on The Road to Croker while Des Cahill is at the Olympics. This will of course be a success – the man talked about Liverpool’s ‘Michael Owens’ during his appearance as part of the panel on The Premiership back in 2001, so is clearly a sporting mastermind.
On the back of that success, RTE are to give him an entire evening of programmes all to himself.
Although they have made every attempt to keep it a secret, on your behalf Tinman18 has obtained the schedule:
18.00 Location, Location, Location
Bertie travels the country looking at sites which would have been suitable for the Bertiebowl, had it not been for the narrow vision of the Irish People.
18.30 Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
A lively programme of chat from Fagan’s Pub in Drumcondra.
19.00 Ground Force
On deciding that his garden needs a vegetable plot, Bertie asks ten friends to give him a dig-out.
19.30 The Weakest Link
Bertie interviews Martin Cullen.
20.00 What Not to Wear
Trinny and Susannah set fire to Bertie’s anorak.
20.30 House Hunters
Advice on how to live rent free, such as by living in your office, or getting some English bloke to buy a house he doesn’t want to live in.
21.00 Extreme Sports
Bertie climbs every tree in North Dublin looking for signs of corruption from Ray Burke.
21.30 Room 101
Bertie picks his pet hates to go into Room 101 – the list includes Des O’Neill SC, other socialists, Meath’s GAA team and general smartarses.
22.00 About the House
Standing in for Duncan Stewart, Bertie visits the PDs, who have decided that their headquarters are now too big for their needs. Bertie suggests demolition.
22.30 The Sky at Night
A review of Bertie’s favourite channels – Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3, and of course MUTV.
23.00 University Challenge
The teams are University College Dublin and the London School of Economics, and Bertie challenges each of them to provide any proof that he actually attended either.
23.30 Countdown
In the numbers round Bertie is given a punt figure and a sterling figure and an exchange rate, and his target is to produce a sum that equals exactly 45,000 dollars.
In the letters round he asks for 3 vowels and 4 consonants, and comes up with the word Loolahs.
Midnight: A Prayer at Bedtime
Bertie prays that he has produced enough smokes and daggers to keep Dem Tribunal Feckers from finding anything else.
He also offers fervent thanks to God that he got out as Taoiseach just before the entire country fell apart.