Bertie back in the frame at Leinster House

VISITORS and politicians ambling through Leinster House next month may be surprised by the reappearance of Bertie Ahern.

Like him or not, Bertie Ahern is set to be immortalised in the Houses of the Oireachtas when a portrait of the three-time taoiseach is hung alongside his predecessors.

Ahead of the expected publication of the Mahon Tribunal report in the autumn, which investigated Mr Ahern’s personal finances, the portrait will be hung while TDs are on their break.

The Office of Public Works confirmed that the framed painting of Mr Ahern will be hung close to the entrance of the Dáil chambers in the second week of September.

And despite previous rumours that there may not be enough space for the picture, the OPW have confirmed that room will be made for the oil-on-linen work.

The painting was commissioned in 2001 and completed and delivered by Dublin artist James Hanley in 2003 at a cost of €10,000.

It remains unclear whether there will be an official unveiling of the painting next month.

Small ceremonies were held in recent years when portraits of former president Erskine Childers and former tánaiste Brian Lenihan Snr were hung in Leinster House, as well as when a newer portrait of former Taoiseach Sean Lemass went up. But the OPW said no ceremony was planned for the latest portrait hanging.

Portraits of former taoisigh on the landing outside the Dáil chamber in Leinster House have been removed, as is tradition during the summer break, for cleaning.

The painting until now was in storage and, under protocol, could not be hung until Mr Ahern was no longer a serving member of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The OPW also said yesterday that the commission process for a portrait of former taoiseach Brian Cowen had not yet commenced.

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