Category: Archive

Ahern in London

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Facetiousness apart, this was a significant event and a fitting cap to a span of May days that have been truly historic and coupled with the added significance of setting a promising new course for the future on the entire island of Ireland.
It’s been a hectic few days for Ahern. There was the Stormont gathering followed by a rendezvous at the Battle of the Boyne site with Ian Paisley and now the landmark address to a joint session of the Houses of Commons and Lords.
For those who have followed Ahern’s remarkable political career, this latest sequence seemed like just more examples of Bertie’s luck. But, in truth, the man worked long and hard towards these days.
Whether it will all do him any good with the voters next week is anybody’s guess but for now the taoiseach can rightly bask in the glow of success that is partly his making.
Ahern was accompanied to Westminster by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, the man who would have his job. But really, this was a politically bloodless, bipartisan outing, one for the books and perhaps even the ages.
Bertie Ahern isn’t Churchill when it comes to the speeches but at least he didn’t have to go on about blood, sweat and toil to the assembled MPs and lordships.
Rather, it fell to the taoiseach to talk about better times. He looked mostly into the future, one replete now with all manner of possibilities for the peoples of neighboring islands, Irish and British.
“The depth and complexity of the relationship between Britain and Ireland defies summary or platitudes. Let us consign arguments about the past to the annals of the past,” Ahern said.
That line deserved a few of the famous in-house hear hears.
Ahern, quite rightly, also took the opportunity to stress his commitment to Irish unity, but restated his absolute opposition to violence.
“It is my passionate hope that we will see an island of Ireland united in peace, but I will continue to oppose with equal determination any effort to impose unity through violence or the threat of violence.”
To that we add our own hear hear.
The taoiseach remembered the all too many victims of the Troubles, the more than 3,700 dead and the many thousands more who were maimed.
“In these days of hope and promise we know the deep hurt and pain that linger in the hearts of so many and for whom the journey of healing and reconciliation will never be easy,” he said.
He lauded Tony Blair and spoke of the relationship between Ireland and Britain changing fundamentally for the better.
Ahern concluded with a line from the late President Kennedy, spoken during JFK’s Irish visit in 1963: “Ireland’s hour has come: a time of peace, of prosperity, of old values and new beginnings.”
Not to mention a general election. But that’s next week.

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