Not to his recollection: former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has relaunched his website minus a speech defending Fianna Fáil's handling of the economy

FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern appears to have finally admitted defeat in his one-man crusade to blame the demise of the Celtic Tiger on the international credit crunch.

The Dublin TD, who has just relaunched his website, has taken the opportunity to remove his most bullish personal musings on the collapse of the Irish economy.

In particular, a speech given earlier this year in which he claimed that nobody in Fianna Fáil "blew the boom" has mysteriously disappeared.

During that talk, Ahern had said that people should not be "deluded by the spin" that somehow Ireland was worse hit by the recession than other countries.

"Ireland is hurting deeply, as many other countries are, as a result of the credit crunch, the worst global downturn since the 1930s and the crisis in the banking sector," he said.

"However, because of the strong growth and wise policy choices we made over much of the last decade, we still have much to build upon and I am confident that Ireland can return to economic growth next year."

The talk, delivered in March of this year to the prestigious Oxford Union, had taken pride of place on the former taoiseach's website, which is used to help drum up business for Ahern's lucrative sideline in international speaking.

However, the website disappeared last month to be replaced by a squatter's site where a number of adult websites, including one called Affairs Club for bored husbands, were being advertised.

Ahern took this opportunity to put his own affairs in order and when the website went back online, speeches featured were more selectively hand-picked.

Perhaps chastened by the findings of the two banking inquiries which showed quite clearly that Ireland's problems were largely of our own making, the former taoiseach has now decided to put the focus instead on his achievements in the peace process.

With current taoiseach Brian Cowen and finance minister Brian Lenihan both admitting their mistakes, Ahern found himself in a minority of one in defending his government's economic performance.

Of the five most recent speeches now featured on the Ahern website, only one of them talks about the Irish economy, and that steers clear of thorny economic issues and focuses instead on tourism.

The four other speeches all relate to the North, generally lauding Ahern's valuable contribution to a lasting peace there.

There was some good news for Ahern last week, however, as a complaint that he had failed to make a full declaration of his business interests was "not upheld".

The ex-taoiseach had been appointed as chairman of the International Forestry Fund in November 2009 but did not include it in the register of members' interests for that year.

Ahern had argued that he was not due to take up the appointment until 1 January 2010 and that therefore he was not obliged to mention it. The committee on members' interests met on 28 May to consider the complaint against Ahern but ruled in favour of the former taoi-seach.

They responded to Dublin man James Casey, who had made the original complaint, and said Ahern's business involvement with the group had not commenced until the new year began.