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Insiders lift lid on Bertie's 'eccentric' attitude to cash

A new book is revealing Bertie Ahern's real attitude towards his finances.

Among the contributors is Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte who says Ahern's worries were more focused on the "financial skeletons in his own cupboards".

And Education Minister Ruairi Quinn says that politicians across party lines tended to wrongly believe that for most of his career Bertie had no interest in money.

"I never got a sense that he had a hunger for money. The revelations subsequently came as a big surprise to me," said Mr Quinn.

"The only correlation that came to me was George Redmond, the former Dublin city and county council assistant manager. George would eat his lunch out of a drawer. He loved the comfort of having the money. You just don't know with Bertie what it was," he added.

And a former Fianna Fail party activist in Dublin Central, Gerald Kenny, was struck by the similarities between Mr Ahern and Charlie Haughey, saying both were driven by a desire for power and were without mercy.

According to one-time lord mayor of Dublin Royston Brady, Mr Ahern, left, always had an intense interest in accumulating money.

"I would describe him as being borderline eccentric when it comes to money and stuff like that," says Mr Brady.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin says he believed Bertie was motivated by a genuine desire to serve the public.

Mr Martin says the former Taoiseach had a fierce sense of old republican values that he got from his late father.

Fine Gael's Richard Bruton said Mr Ahern's response to any difficulty was to pretend it wasn't there and, if that did not work, to throw public money at it.

Bertie: Power And Money is due to be published next week

hnews@herald.ie