And so we reach the end of the Ahern administration. It took 20 months of scandal to get him out of office, but he finally succumbed once his back was against the wall.
Some might argue I should wish the man well in his future endeavours, or allow him the grace of a peaceful exit from power.
I’m afraid I can’t do that. Ahern has damaged the body politic like no one since CJ Haughey. Ireland is worse off as a result.
Ahern wants to have his economic cake, and eat it, as it were. On the one hand he led a party with an ideology of not messing with a free and open market, letting low taxes (brought in by the prior administration) do their work and bring in US firms.
It worked, for a while. Those days are fast coming to an end – especially on the manufacturing end.
But people cannot now claim that Ahern is singularly responsible for Ireland’s economic prowess. If his government was hands off when it came to interfering in the free market, then how can he? Furthermore, surely it was not the work of any politician that led to the Celtic Tiger, but the sacrifice of PAYE workers all the way through the 1980s and 1990s who worked their asses off and paid high taxes, up until recent years when growth allowed for tax cuts.
What exactly did Ahern achive during his time in office? Can anyone tell me? His personality certainly was better than Bruton’s with regard to the peace process, but I remember Ahern coming into power in 1997, not long before the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Perhaps the deal could have been done without him, perhaps not.
His legacy? I would struggle to find a positive one. I can only agree with the words of Eamonn Sweeney. Ahern was nothing but a sniveller. A sneering idiot, who lauded Ireland’s economic prowess while not know what the fuck he was talking about. “Ireland is the largest software exporter in the world,” he shouted at the opposition a couple of years ago. He was arguing that Ireland is a true “knowledge economy”. He didn’t realise that all we do is package the discs and ship them off to countries in the third world with better broadband than we do. Broadband, he might say, what’s that? Cavan? Is that in Ireland?
He also presided over the largest case of clientelism in Irish history, creating a huge civil service, as the OECD recently criticised, buying thousands of votes with tens of thousands of jobs. Why do we need so many to govern so few? And why do we pay so much for it? And will all those civil servants, many employed since 1997, vote for FF and more of the same in the civil service; or an opposition that might slim down a bloated public sector? Fear is always good to get people motivated.
I am glad he is gone, an imbecile politician, with only himself, his cash, and his party to think about – the cult that is Fianna Fail. I look forward to him coming back to the Mahon Tribunal and answering questions about all that sterling, questions that the opposition and the fourth estate have failed to ask now for over a month.
Good riddance to you Mr Ahern. Ireland is better off without you.