Young people need to “educate themselves” about the Troubles and the trauma of the past, Bertie Ahern has said.
At Electric Picnic this weekend, The Wolfe Tones performed and many people sang 'Oh, ah, up the Ra' along with them.
Newstalk Breakfast presenter Shane Coleman said he worried that it was part of the "rewriting [of] history" where the deeds of the IRA are glorified instead of condemned.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Mr Ahern said it was not an issue that got him “too excited” but he worried young people do not know enough about Ireland’s recent history.
“A lot of their [The Wolfe Tones’] songs are very republican,” he said.
“They are songs about the past but rather than getting ourselves hung up about a line in a song… I think it beholds us to try and educate them [young people] and explain to them as best we can the facts of what happened during the Troubles.
“That was the reason why we put a huge amount of effort into the podcast, As I Remember It: Bertie Ahern and The Good Friday Agreement and where we’ve come from since and what the Good Friday Agreement was all about.
“I think people can sing songs about war and Vietnam and God knows what, but I think young people, as a separate project, should educate themselves about what happened on this island.
“About the ferocious trauma that we had from ‘68 on, the fact that 3,700 people were killed, that we had tens of thousands of bombs, shootings that damaged our image all over the world, that tourism was a non-runner, that investment a non-runner for many years.
“So, I’d rather people would see that story and understand the efforts that were made by a lot of people, from Bill Clinton, to George Mitchell, Tony Blair and a lot of others, to try to bring an end to that and move this country in a different direction.
“So, I think it is that education process that I would be far more interested in than worrying about a line of a song.”
Wolfe Tones singer Brian Warfield has previously described the controversy about the singing of 'Oh, ah, up the Ra’ as “ridiculous”.
“I think they want to erase the IRA from our history books, from our schools, from everywhere,” he said.
"It is the foundation of our State - Michael Collins and the IRA, that's the people that we're supporting.
"We never said at any stage that it was going to be about the Provisional IRA, it doesn't say that, it doesn't say anything like that.”
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Main image: Bertie Ahern. Picture by: Alamy.com