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Monday, October 09, 2006

Bertie Ahern's Permanent Campaign Trail

Political and business leaders ideally should be adept at multitasking given the demands of such jobs. Some inevitably are; others just muddle through.

One can only wonder how much time Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has for strategic thinking, monitoring the performance of cabinet colleagues and for example to prepare policies for dealing with a property downturn that could have a devastating impact on public finances - 20% of annual spending is currently funded from property.

Bertie Ahern certainly works more than 40 hours each week but should a Taoiseach spend so much time doing what a President who has no policy or executive role, is tailormade to do?

The Taoiseach for example undertook 15 engagements in the southwest last Friday, including the launch at Shannon airport of Atlantic Way, a group established to maximise the development potential of the west.

His itinerary in the Limerick and Shannon areas included a visit to the Enterprise Centre in Moyross, Meelick National School, Castleconnell Community Hall, Garryowen sports club in Limerick city and the nearby Geraldines soccer club.

He also visited a newly opened secondary Gaelscoláiste in Limerick city centre as well as the Model School on O'Connell Street.

Ahern also viewed the new facilities at Na Piarsaigh GAA Club and as well as launching the rebranding of the Shannon District Chambers of Commerce.

The Taoiseach also did a small walkabout around Shannon town centre where he opened an art exhibition and he visited Clarecastle day care centre to visit a building project there.

His final engagement was at a family resource centre in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Later, he flew back to Dublin for the Gonzaga Past Pupils dinner which was also attended by the Tánaiste Michael McDowell.

On Saturday he met McDowell to get the latter back from a semi-detached mode to the governing coalition and then that evening, the Taoiseach was guest-of-honour at the Star/Waterford Crystal Annual GAA Awards in Croke Park, where he gave a speech.

On Sunday, he was down south again, unveiling a memorial to World War I soldiers in Fermoy. He gave a speech and went on to the Amberley Home and Retirement Cottages, where he gave another speech.

That was just 3 days including the weekend.

This week, apart from more meetings and event openings, together with further discussions with Michael McDowell, he is due to head to Scotland to co-chair Northern Ireland talks with UK PM Tony Blair.