22 February, 2006 in the Dáil (Ahern corrected his slip, above, during the same statement.) Leaders' Questions Oireachtas Debates 2006-02-22.
I have always found him to be a proud, honourable man, loyal, true, persevering, principled, caring and committed but tough and a person who lost friends easily. On behalf of the Government but in particular on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, I thank him for his distinguished years of service to his constituents and his country.
The public are entitled to have an absolute guarantee of the financial probity and integrity of their elected representatives, their officials and above all of Ministers. They need to know that they are under financial obligations to nobody.
I continued the arrangement, so whatever was on my mind, and the reason I probably can't give you a better reflection of what I was doing on the 19th of January is because I didn't do it. I am sure there are some mornings you get up and you think I might do this or I might do that and then you don't do them so, its hard to remember.
Did Ahern, in his 11 years of power, make the most of this unprecedented prosperity for the public benefit? The answer can hardly be positive, given the present state of health, education and infrastructure, generally.
We can spit on Bertie Ahern till our mouths run dry, but he didn’t invent the amorality of our public culture. He was never a large enough figure to be able to shape the way Irish society thinks and feels. He was just an artful dodger, a skilled exploiter of the opportunities created by widespread tolerance for ingratiating chancers.