Ahern: may follow in Tony Blair's footsteps

FORMER TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern may follow in the footsteps of two other peacemakers in the North, Tony Blair and George Mitchell, and become a peace envoy.

The last motion tabled for discussion at this weekend's Fianna Fáil ardfheis proposed that Ahern would utilise the peacekeeping skills he acquired in the North on the international stage.

The Tramore Cumann from Waterford proposed that the ardfheis "requests that the government offer the services of Bertie Ahern as a peace envoy to use his expertise for the benefit of international peace negotiations/conflict resolution".

Blair has been Middle East envoy representing the USA, the EU, Russia and the UN since 2007, while former US senator George Mitchell was recently appointed as special envoy to the Middle East by the new US president Barack Obama.

Other motions tabled this weekend included a plan whereby the government would introduce free dog licences for old age pensioners. A dog license costs €12.70 so the free licence for the pensioners is unlikely to banish memories of the post-budget medical-card fiasco.

Given the government's disastrous run of form, FF councillors could hardly be blamed for wanting to disown the party ahead of the 5 June local elections but there was a motion to address this. The Traynor Boland Cumann from Dublin North Central proposed that "all Fianna Fáil candidates contesting the local elections use the Fianna Fáil logo and colours on all election material".

In the wake of the biggest bank robbery in the history of the state, a motion was also tabled to "classify criminal gangs causing death, misery and indignity across the country as illegal terrorist organisations and deal with their membership accordingly."

The Loughrea Cumann in Galway claimed the expenses and salaries of ministers and TDs are excessive and calls for a 20% reduction in ministerial salaries and a 10% reduction in TDs salaries.

Last weekend, Fianna Fáil held their first fundraising event in the North with an event in Crossmaglen, Armagh. A motion on establishing a Fianna Fáil forum in each of the six counties was tabled. The six new bodies would facilitate members in the North who wish to engage with the party.