FORMER TAOISEACH BERTIE Ahern has described a suggestion by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster as “absolutely crazy and dangerous”.
Ahern was responding to suggestions from the DUP that the mandatory power-sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland may have to be reviewed.
An election in Northern Ireland is looking more and more likely after Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness stepped down as Deputy First Minister in protest at Foster’s handling of the ‘cash for ash’ scandal.
If Sinn Féin does not come back into the fold as coalition partner by next Monday then an election will be called.
It’s led to suggestions from the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson that the governmental arrangements forged under the Good Friday Agreement may have to be renegotiated.
Foster subsequently made similar comments and speaking today on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme, Ahern described this talk as “dangerous”.
“One of the things Arlene Foster was saying yesterday, which was absolutely crazy and dangerous,” Ahern said.
She was talking about how we need to move on in Northern Ireland from mandatory coalitions to coalitions formed out of an election. That would be read by the entire republican/nationalist family as going back to a unionist rule. She mightn’t have meant it, but she said it.
Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud
Ahern, who was Taoiseach during the peace talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement, also spoke in glowing terms about McGuinness.
“Whatever about Martin McGuinness’ past, for over 20 years he has been a huge plus to the peace process,” Ahern said.
“As chief negotiator he’s a man of his words, I know that as I’ve dealt with him across the table for years.”
Ahern added that he felt it was “possible for the sides to pull this back” and avoid an election.