I was rather sad to see Bertie Ahern announce his resignation as Taoiseach last week. It made me realise that he has for me been a rather reassuring figure on the international scene over the years.
I have a rather limited knowledge of Irish politics (more on this) but I do know that he has played a key role in the enormous changes that have taken place to Ireland’s economy and society. Ahern was both electorally successful and able to build stable and enduring coalition governments. He has presided over a period of political stability, economic growth, European engagement and generally progressive social change. I am sure those closer to Irish politics than I could point out many faults but in general my impression is a positive one. Not least there is the role he played in achieving the current settlement in Northern Ireland.
However, it is the personal impression that I get of the man that I think makes me feel affection for Bertie. I get the impression of a man that, while he would be a tough negotiator, he would be someone that you would probably enjoy doing business with. You can make many comparisons between Ahern and Tony Blair, he seems grounded in a way that Blair does not. I suspect that this is probably one of the key reasons why he is the most electorally successful Irish politician since de Valera.
In short, I like the guy.
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.