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Bertie Ahern: 'Arlene Foster needs to cheer up a bit'

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern and DUP leader Arlene Foster

FORMER taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said Arlene Foster "needs to cheer up a bit" if she is to restore power-sharing at Stormont.

The DUP leader's problem is that she "is not loved by many in her own party, by Sinn Féin, the SDLP, or on the streets", Mr Ahern said.

"And that is the problem, she needs to cheer up a bit, and convince people that we can all love her, if she is [to] lead the parties back into the assembly," he added.

Speaking at an event in Co Meath commemorating the Good Friday Agreement, the former Fianna Fáil leader said the Irish government should try to work alongside Mrs Foster while she is DUP leader.

"I know that's not easy. She's not a very easy person, and had a terrible rough time during her life, but so did many others, and came across the line," he told an audience in Athboy, the Meath Chronicle reported.

On British prime minister Theresa May, Mr Ahern said: "If she keeps going from crisis to crisis, and listening to that buffoon, Boris – he'll ruin us, never mind ruin them – she has to face up to that. If she doesn't she can't survive."

And on a border poll, he said the only way a united Ireland would work is "when the nationalist and republican communities and a 'reasonable' share of the loyalist and unionist people want it – but with the unionists and loyalists totally opposed, it is ridiculous".

"The only united Ireland will be a negotiated one – and it won't happen in my lifetime," the 66-year-old said.

He also recalled how after he stepped down as taoiseach, he and former DUP leader Ian Paisley visited parts of Dublin including Glasnevin Cemetery, where Mr Ahern's parents are buried in the republican plot.

"And Ian Paisley walked down to my mother's and father's graves, and he knew they were in the republican plot, and he stood over them and said a prayer – I thought that was some twist to the guy," he said.

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