Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has hit back at a German TV show which he claims failed to “honour” the terms agreed for an interview from which he got up and walked out in protest.
Mr Ahern was confronted with questions about his personal finances and the Mahon planning tribunal scandal, but refused to answer.
The video of the DW Conflict Zone interview went viral and journalist Tim Sebastian says the show had warned Mr Ahern’s office of other questions he could face, as well as ones relating to the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Sebastian questioned the former Fianna Fáil leader about the Mahon Tribunal’s findings, which found he did not truthfully explain payments made to accounts connected to him.
However, the three-time taoiseach, speaking to the Irish Examiner, defended his position. Mr Ahern said he had gone out of his way to do the interview with the German show, between 28 media interviews recently on the Good Friday Agreement.
“I had about 20 minutes,” said Mr Ahern. “They [the show] said clearly it was the Good Friday Agreement and that they’d throw in a bit about Brexit and that was it.
“They made it absolutely clear they were broaching nothing except Brexit and that [the agreement]. It was very clear, it was the Good Friday Agreement and then they said some questions on Brexit and then they actually said if there was anything else, they would send another email, which they never did.”
Does Bertie Ahern's legacy include the Mahon Tribunal? This was Conflict Zone's request to his office on 27 March 2018. We also invited him to take a look at the program beforehand. pic.twitter.com/ivscR6zupv— DW Conflict Zone (@dw_conflictzone) April 24, 2018
The interview has prompted fresh questions about Mr Ahern and his suggestion that he may run for the presidency. However, Mr Ahern said that he is not worried.
“I stood up, I shook hands with him [Mr Sebastian],” said Mr Ahern. “There was no row, argument. And then they sent it off trying to get publicity for themselves.
“It was very clear, my offices were very annoyed with them because I only have one person in the office. I went out of my way, broke my neck to do it for them. They just didn’t honour what was agreed.”
Asked what if he faced more questions about the tribunal, Mr Ahern said: “I wanted to finish that a few years ago. I did a whole hour on RTÉ, a full hour with Miriam O’Callaghan. And I said: ‘That’s it I’m doing no more.’ You can’t keep going back and back.”