Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is to resign in the face of ongoing inquiries about his personal finances by the Irish Justice system. Ahern has been Taoiseach (Prime Minister) since 1997 and a member of the Irish Parliament for 31 years. Recent allegations of corrupt payments made to Ahern have recently rendered his position untenable and although Ahern still strongly protests his innocence and is preparing to battle it out in the courts he has chosen to resign from both his position as Irish PM and from the Fianna Fail (the Irish Party of which he is leader).
“The priority I put above all others was to work for peace on this island, and I have given all to that cause. I know in my heart of hearts I have done no wrong and wronged no-one. My decision is motivated by what is best for the people. It is a personal decision. I will not allow issues related to my own person to dominate the people and the body politic. While I will be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes in my life and in my career, one mistake I’ve never made was to enrich myself by misusing the trust of the people. I have never received a corrupt payment and I’ve never done anything to dishonour any office that I’ve ever held.”
From the BBC:
Mr Ahern has been the most successful politician in the Republic of Ireland since Eamon De Valera, winning three elections. He is Ireland’s second-longest serving taoiseach. BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport described Mr Ahern’s impending departure as “death by a thousand cuts”. “Bertie Ahern was coming under increasing pressure from the Mahon Tribunal,” he said. “I think he felt this wouldn’t go away, and, if he didn’t give a date for his departure, the Dublin media, in particular, would be relentless.”
A resignation that ensures that the man who was crucial for the Good Friday Agreements bows out of politics with full honours.