'A minority Government will mean another election in 2017' - Bertie Ahern

The retired politician joined the paper round up on the Sunday Show

'A minority Government will mean another election in 2017' - Bertie Ahern

Photocall file photo

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he expects another general election in 2017 if Fine Gael forms a coalition based on independents and smaller parties.

Mr Ahern, who led a number of negotiations on the formation of Governments, said a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael deal will be the last thing on either party's list of options.

However, he said it was considered in 1989, before Fianna Fáil decided to work with the Progressive Democrats instead. 

Ahern suggested that most rank-and-file Fianna Fáil members are against a deal and that, while he was at the Dublin hurling match in Croke Park yesterday, only one party member expressed an interest to him in the proposed coalition.

He also referred to the 1992 general elections, which were followed by four weeks and three days of negotiations before a government was formed. It was far from the disaster many predicted at the time, and Ahern thinks a similar situation would be more beneficial than a weak coalition or minority government.

He said it's unlikely we'll see another election this year, but a vote is probable next year:

Speaking on the election of the next Ceann Comhairle, Ahern said the Dáil requires an experienced parliamentarian in the role. "The last thing Dáil needs is some newcomer," he said.

He also raised the possibility of Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny operating as rotating Taoisigh, pointing out how the same option was raise in 1992 by Labour leader Dick Spring.

Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, he believes Dáil reforms are "essential," highlighting the changes in procedure and budget-making since he was first elected as signs of the lower house's evolution over the years.

With St Patrick's Day on the horizon, the former Taoiseach said political instability should not result in a missed opportunity. It is the only time of the year Ireland will take international precedence and its importance for our image and foreign investment cannot be wasted because a new government has not been elected.

When asked what leader would be holding the shamrock in the White House, he did not rule out Martin, and said he would be "going in to win" in Thursday's vote to determine the next Taoiseach.

"If Enda doesn't win the Taoiseach vote on Thursday, whoever beats him will be in the driving seat," he added.

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