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Thursday, April 03, 2008
BERTIE AHERN’S next career move is already a talking point for the bookies, some of whom, more in play than prescience, are giving odds on the likelihood of him turning up behind the counter at Fagan’s.
But not even the dilemma the outgoing Taoiseach will find himself in professionally come May 6 is likely to see him resorting to pulling pints at his favourite local watering hole.
It is, however, a considerable dilemma. At 56, and with the energy of one half his age, he is too young for retirement, even though he has handsome pensions to support him.
He doesn’t have a family business to blend into and the humdrum of being a backbencher deputy representing Dublin Central is unlikely to present a sufficient challenge for him.
Jobs commensurate with his standing and experience almost inevitably require a move overseas, but Mr Ahern is a home bird and any post he would consider would have to allow him to base himself at least part-time in Ireland.
A job in Europe would be ideal as it’s familiar territory and it’s no more than a few hours’ flight away. But speculation that Mr Ahern has been eyeing up, or is being eyed up for, the new position of president of the EU, is optimistic at the moment.
The position will be created only if the Lisbon Treaty is passed and given that Ireland is the only EU member with the potential to block the treaty as we’re the only country holding a referendum on it, any European ambitions Mr Ahern has will be dead in the water if there is a no vote.
Availability for the job does not make him an automatic candidate either — other serving prime ministers and some who have recently vacated their domestic posts are also interested and some have a stronger record of pushing the European project over a longer period of time.
His negotiation skills are well known and highly regarded, and a good negotiator is always needed on the international diplomatic stage, but who would sponsor him for such a role?
His old pal, Tony Blair, has found a niche for himself as peace envoy to the Middle East since his departure from power last year but despite his pivotal role in the northern peace process, Mr Ahern is not a heavyweight on the considerable complexities of Middle Eastern politics.
In the past, friends in Washington might have found a job for him but Ireland’s influence in the US has been on the wane and his appetite for the rather staid kind of job that came John Bruton’s way — EU ambassador to the US — would have to be in doubt.
Above all, Mr Ahern needs to get the tribunal off his back before he can declare his interest in any sensitive globe-trotting position. His immediate next job after May 6 will be to satisfy three judges in Dublin Castle. After that, there’s always Fagan’s.
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