Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to visit Downpatrick next month

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to visit Downpatrick next month

14 February 2024

FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is heading for Downpatrick next month to talk about his life, his faith and the state of Irish politics.

Mr Ahern, a key player in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement, will join broadcaster Gerry Kelly on stage before a live audience at The Saint Patrick Centre on March 7.

While Mr Ahern was a guest of The Saint Patrick’s Centre’s podcast series during Covid lockdown 2020, this is his first trip to Downpatrick.

“We are very excited that Bertie Ahern –  who is a busy globe-trotter these days – is coming to Downpatrick,” said Dr Tim Campbell, director of The Saint Patrick Centre, the world’s only permanent exhibition to St Patrick.

“Bertie Ahern was one of the key players in the peace process and there is huge interest in this event already. 

“Bertie Ahern won admiration from across the political spectrum when he returned to negotiations in Belfast directly from his mother’s funeral in the last days of negotiations in 1998.” 

Dr Campbell continued: “His visit coincides with the recent restoration of power-sharing at Stormont, so it is very timely. 

“We look forward to hearing him speaking about Stormont’s challenges, and also his own personal experiences including his faith journey.

“I know Gerry Kelly has a few questions for him around the Irish presidency and the continuing debate around the Union and Irish unity.”

“This is one of many key events we are planning around St Patrick’s Day across the month of March in Downpatrick.

“Our Centre is the fruit of the peace process as it was opened more than 20 years ago to help promote peace, prosperity and reconciliation. Indeed when we opened, we received a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Tony Blair who worked closely with Mr Ahern.”

Broadcaster Gerry Kelly said it was great to be interviewing Mr Ahern once again as it had been some years since they spoke as part of a UTV series "Gerry Meets...".

 “I’m looking forward to chatting to Bertie Ahern again, and I suppose I'm interested in what life is like for him today. 

“I’m  also keen to hear his view on Northern Ireland and what the future may hold. On a personal level, I’m thinking about his love of GAA and also the fact he is father-in-law to a Westlife pop star”

In his Saint Patrick Centre podcast with pilgrim guides Martina Purdy and Elaine Kelly, Mr Ahern said his faith was important to him. 

"I am a believer and I understand it and I read about it and it’s part of my life," he said.

The event is supported by The Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.

Tickets are £20 and are available from The Saint Patrick Centre on 028 4461 9000.