Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is facing growing pressure to re-admit Bertie Ahern to the party.
A unanimous vote by Mr Ahern’s local Dublin branch last week fuelled speculation the former Taoiseach was set to return to the political stage. However, Mr Martin immediately shot down the prospect, saying he did not expect Mr Ahern to rejoin Fianna Fáil.
Despite the party leader’s position, Mr Ahern has ramped up the pressure even more on his former cabinet colleague, in a series of critical newspaper interviews.
Mr Ahern maintains that a lot has changed since the original Mahon Tribunal conclusions against him were published four years ago, which resulted in him leaving the party.
The tribunal concluded in its final report Mr Ahern had not “truthfully” accounted for lodgements exceeding £165,000 made in his favour.
Mr Martin says nothing had changed since the report, which forced Mr Ahern to quit Fianna Fáil.
But Mr Ahern disagrees. He references successful court challenges to the planning inquiry over his infamous ‘dig out’, taken by his associates in Dublin. “Lots of things have happened since, there have been a number of court cases, all of which were won. How is that the same?”
Mr Ahern also said that the public’s opinion of him with regard to the economic crash had changed. “The banking inquiry was a big thing, you had a chance of explaining things. In the cold light of day, people now realise — because people have travelled — they now realise that the effects of 2008 are worldwide
. I didn’t accept my role in the banking because I wasn’t responsible, but I did in the property because we were giving incentives. There is no problem with that,” he told the Irish Mail on Sunday.
Mr Ahern also claimed in weekend interviews Mr Martin had personally blocked the Dublin Central constituency from writing to him and inviting him to rejoin Fianna Fáil after its vote. “I never got the letter because he [Mr Martin] stopped it.
“If I apply for membership apparently, it has to go back to him. I would be the only person in the organisation who joins where my application would have to go back to him,” Mr Ahern also told the Sunday Independent.
Mr Ahern maintains he just wants to play a local role and help Fianna Fáil in his constituency, where he was elected 10 times. This would be a “judgement” call for the party leader, he said.
A spokeswoman for Mr Martin said he had nothing to add last night.
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