Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent
BERTIE AHERN began to let the past go yesterday as he said a softly spoken farewell to the Dáil he has dominated for more than a decade as part of his long goodbye from power. The journey will sweep him through the majestic setting of the US Congress next week before finally climaxing on May 6 when he meets the north’s first minister Ian Paisley at the site of the Battle of the Boyne. The deeply symbolic occasion will sear into the national consciousness the defining image of him as the bringer of peace, standing together with the enemy he tamed on the blood-soaked faultline of Irish history he helped soothe. Keen to avoid the Shakespearean drama of Charles Haughey’s sudden exit from the Dáil, Bertie chose a reflective quote from Jesuit writer Fr John Sullivan.
“Take life in installments. This day now, at least let this be a good day. Be always beginning, let the past go. Now let me do whatever I have the power to do,”he told TDs as his final command to the Dáil as the Taoiseach was lost amid the chamber rising in unanimous applause. As befits this most pragmatic of men, the moment was executed without a trace of emotion from him. Apart from a lone Sinn Féin voice, the tributes that flowed towards Bertie were universally warm, but it was Mary Harney who touched on the enigma the man best.
Read the full article in the Irish Examiner (here)