On my visit to Dublin last week, I got to visit Tithe an Oireachtais, the Irish Parliament. A wonderful building, a beautiful blend of old and new. The same goes for the paintings on the walls, former presidents and prime ministers, some still alive and kicking, others gone to other pastures.
The paintings of previous Taoiseach, prime ministers, hang along an oval gallery, a passage into the House of Represantatives. Just recently, the Mahon report, 14 years in the making, was published. It showed quite clearly that in the 80s and the 90s, the period covered by the report, Ahern was receiving corrupt payment. Other cases show that Ahern didn’t really improve later in life.
But what is Ahern doing now? Like so many previous PMs – Tony Blair being a prime example – Ahern knows that in distant countries being a bit of a rogue does much less harm than the “ex-PM” title does good. So Bertie Ahern is now opening doors in China for Irish business men.
But Ahern is still hanging on the wall in the Irish Parliament – not being able to explain how you finance buying a flat is just nothing – and there is also the grand painting of Charlie Haughey. These paintings are a daily reminder to the Irish MPs that being a bit of a rogue doesn’t seem to do any harm in Irish politics. Brown envelopes? Never mind. Is that the message the Irish want to spread around?
Follow me on Twitter for running updates.