Friday, September 29, 2006


Ahern going under

Bertie Ahern has found himself in deep, dark and dangerous waters. And the sharks are circling.

Exactly a week ago I commented on the biggest crisis of the Taoiseach's political career as he faced questions on payments he receieved from wealthy businessman. Now, a week on, the crisis hasn't gone away. In fact, it's become much worse.

Akin to a drowning man flailing about wildly in the ocean, Ahern has been busy scurrying about trying to repair the damage he caused due to his need to accept cash from his 'friends in high places'. You could see the desperation etched in the face of Ahern as he gave an interview to RTE over the scandal where he stated that a group of his friends made two separate payments to him in 1993 and 1994 totalling IR£39,000.

The drowning man has other problems to contend with too.

The Opposition have smelled blood as well as panic. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was a 'very grave' situation for Mr Ahern, and that questions on ethics and tax arose as a result of the interview. Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said it was 'stretching credulity' to describe the payment as a loan. He claimed that that it in reality it was a gift which raises taxation questions. Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said Mr Ahern had misled the Irish people by saying the reported figure of €50,000 to €100,000 was 'off the wall', when in fact it was accurate while Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe said the amount involved was very large, and could have bought a house in 1993.

As this wave of controversy descends on the drowning man plunging him further into the depths of despair, Fianna Fáil's coalition partners, the PDs, have offered no help. Like trepid onlookers from the shore, they have been content to observe Ahern's frantic efforts to come through the ordeal without extending a hand of help. Asked about the controversy over the payments to the Taoiseach, Mr McDowell today said:

"We want to see our programme for Government implemented."

Ahern is on his own

Then again, can anyone really blame the PDs for not wanting to rush to Ahern's aid? After all, would you assist a drowning man who would pull you under in the process?

That is the reality of this situation and why Ahern must feel utterly isolated. He has been abandoned to cold, shark-infested waters, while all the while he is faced with fresh waves of controversy that toss him about and leave him disorientated and in disarray.

As he gazes out on to the shore he witnesses the band of uneasy onlookers anxiously waiting for him to go under for good.

I feel they won't have to wait long.


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