Amazingly and brazenly, Bertie Ahern got his mug on the cover of prestigious Millennium Millionaire, [UAE’s equivalent to Forbes Magazine], a magazine that is read almost exclusively by the rich, the powerful and the sophisticated. At thirty grand a pop in return for a speech, Bertie is getting richer and as a public speaker he is becoming more powerful.
As Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.
In the wake of the forced resignation of the CRC board, Bertie spoke to journalists Niamh Horan and Maeve Sheehan about the strong presence on the board of so many of his Fianna Fail buddies, the so-called Drumcondra Mafia.
“All these fellas, as far as I knew, did this voluntarily. They worked on a voluntary board. And I don’t think in all the years I was Taoiseach, I ever went to CRC as an official engagement.”
Bertie emphasised the newly resigned chairman of the board, Jim Nugent was never a part of the Drumcondra Mafia. “He was never organizationally involved, but he was a great guy.”
Bertie said he didn’t know Nugent was chairman until this scandal blew up. He recalled that as far as he knows, he appointed Nugent to the board of CERT and also to the board of the Central Bank.
Bertie was familiar with the CRC, where he attended for swimming and physio on his “banjaxed” leg, which he broke in a fall down the stairs in 2008. He hadn’t seen a crutches since then, until he was attacked with one just a couple of weeks ago. Vincent Brady, an old cabinet colleague of Bertie’s, was also on the board and according to Bertie, himself and Vincent occasionally bumped into one another at “matches.” Bertie told the reporters that those were just casual meetings.
“I never discussed anything with Vincent Brady. I didn’t even know he was on the CRC and I didn’t even know Nugent was the chairman!”
As Paul Brady says, nobody knows why Elvis threw it all away.
Still, it makes you wonder why Paul Kiely, Des Peelo, Vincent Brady and the late Tony Kett, all old mates, didn’t bother to tell him about Jim Nugent’s new gig. On reflection, maybe Bertie the loner, hasn’t bothered to keep in regular contact with his close pals of yore.
Its hard to know, which of them might have brought the ex-Taoiseach up to speed on FF appointments. He didn’t even share a single pint this year with his good friend Paul Kiely, the retired ex-chairman and board member at the CRC, who recently got a € 200,000 lump sum from collected funds, as a pension top-up, which revelation was the spark that really ignited the public controversy. But stalwart Bertie is there to give his buddy a non-monetary dig out.
“Paul Kiely is a good friend of mine. But these guys all applied for the jobs. I had nothing to do with them. I never ever had power to appoint. The only thing I ever did was when I went to support sale-of-work days years ago.”
Well at least the sales-of-work revelation may account for the crap cardigans down the years. Of course Paul is retired now, so there may be a natural lacuna in Bertie and Paul’s friendship.
“I would not say I had a drink with Paul Kiely…I certainly haven’t had a drink with him this calendar year..and this is the end of the year.”
As Johnny Logan says, what’s another year.
And Des Peelo, who represented Bertie and Charlie Haughey, at tribunals investigating their personal finances, wouldn’t you think that he would be the obvious candidate to keep Bertie abreast of the political developments. Former chairman Des got no special mention. “Des Peelo, as far as I know” said Bertie,”has worked for CRC for years. Tony Kett, (deceased), was a friend of mine. He worked with me in the Mater and then he went to the CRC, but there are lots of fellas who worked with me in the Mater, who went to all kinds of jobs.”
The Mater Hospital is where Bertie worked, in accounts and he always talks fondly of those by-gone days.
“I mean, if you had to check with all the guys I worked with in the Mater and see all the places they ended up, we were a talented bunch of guys I tell you, 40 years ago.”
That five talented guys with connections to Bertie and Fianna Fail would end up on the board of CRC, three as chairman, is just one of those crazy coincidences, almost as big a miracle as getting Bertie’s picture on the cover of Forbes Magazines.
As Robbie Williams says I’m loving angels instead.
Bertie is not without talent. He has buckets of charm up close, but we have to keep reminding ourselves, this man, our leader had to resign. Milk of amnesia flows through his brain, at will. He is a dissembler of note, a master of evasion and nobody has ever topped Charlie Haughey’s caution that Bertie was “the most skilful, the most cunning, the most devious of them all.”
As Leonard Cohen says, first we’ll take Manhattan, then we’ll take Berlin.Article Written by Shay Healy First Published in The Irish Daily Mail, Saturday 21st December 2013 Shay Healy’s latest eBook ‘The Danny Boy Triangle’ is Out Now on Kindle 2.99 Free Kindle Reader – download app