The Legacy Of Bertie Ahern
The time of the departure of Bertie Ahern has now been announced. What of his legacy, his place in Irish history? Here are some points that might be considered.
The one achievement of Bertie Ahern that stands out is his success in Northern Ireland. It is probably fair to state that only an individual without much in the way of idealogical belief was able to sit on the fence between competing idealogies and bring these competing idealogies to a compromise.
The legacy of Ahern is likely to be his failure to use a profoundly nation-altering economic boom to permanently upgrade the level of basic public services in this country. After almost 11 years as Taoiseach, women in Ireland still have no ready access to a breast checking service in order to diagnose the occurence of cancer. Indeed, when women do undergo an examination to determine the existence of breast cancer, they are misdiagnosed. Waiting lists, have, despite promises, remained long for users of the public health service. Susie Long had to wait seven months for a colonoscopy after the request was made by her GP. That delay resulted in the cancer permeating her bowel and becoming incurable by the time she had the test, how she, a public patient, had sat beside the partner of a private patient with the same disease in a hospital room and heard how he had undergone the colonoscopy within three days of referral, and she was going to die.Women have died because of this.
Dublin has seen an increase in public transport provision – but when the Luas line was being implemented, it was chopped in two, in the interests of political expediency and cowardice. Several years later, this mistake has been realised and will be rectified – at the cost of millions more to the exchequer. Had the Luas system been properly implemented, Dublin would now be building additional Luas lines and Metro lines, and perhaps even have completed some of these – as it is, they are now only being planned, and in the case of the few lines that have been started, they are still in the early stages. In terms of air transport, the national airline has been privatised, sold off to the highest bidder, and Shannon has been stripped of a service vital to the economy of the west of Ireland.
Fundamentally, the construction of houses by the backers of Ahern and Fianna Fail led to skyrocketing inflation in land and house prices, which has been nothing short of a disaster ordinary people, forced to move far away from the areas in which they grow up, forcing them to sit in cars as they commute to jobs located miles away.
Critically for Ireland, and perhaps permanently, Ahern allowed his personal integrity to be compromised. By taking money and not paying taxes he has contributed, along with his late mentor Charles Haughey, to the poisoning of politics. He has made it that much harder for genuine individuals, with real political idealogies to place themselves in a position where they can be elected by citizens who trust and respect political office. Ahern has not left the office of Taoiseach with dignity. He has left it bruised and battered by allowing it to become tainted by the impropriety of his actions in this regard.
Good riddance to Bertie Ahern. He should have resigned years ago.