Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach of Ireland 1997 - 2008, named the new Co-Chair of the InterAction Council

The InterAction Council, a think tank of former world leaders, is pleased to announce that Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, was named Co-Chair of the Council at the 33rd Annual Plenary Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, at its annual plenary meeting from 8-9 March 2016. Mr. Ahern served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1997 – 2008 and joined the InterAction Council in 2012.

“It is a great honour to be elected Co-Chair of the InterAction Council. I have enjoyed playing an active role in the Council these last few years and look forward to working alongside President Obasanjo as Chair,” said Bertie Ahern. “I have a particular interest in the Council’s significant involvement in facilitating religious dialogue and its efforts to put an end to sectarian violence, issues that I have worked on throughout my career.”

Bertie Ahern was first elected to the Dáil (Parliament) in 1977 he was Minister for Labour from March 1987 to November 1991 and was appointed Minister for Finance on three separate occasions from November 1991 to December 1994. He has served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), Minister for Arts, Culture & the Gaeltacht and Minister for Industry and Commerce at various stages. His first ministerial appointment was as Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department for Defense in 1982. Bertie Ahern was a member of Dublin City Council from 1978 to 1988 and had the honour of serving as Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1986 to 1987.

In November 1994 he was elected leader of his party Fianna Fáil and served as Leader of the Opposition from then until June 1997. He was first elected Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in June 1997. He was re-elected in June 2002 and again in May 2007. In 1997 Bertie Ahern received widespread praise for his political skills in ensuring that this administration served it full five-year term and delivered on real political and economic progress for the Irish people. The defining moment of this period and a defining moment in Irish history was the successful negotiation by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair of the Good Friday Agreement between the British and Irish Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland in April 1998. He was re-elected Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in June 2002.

These years were a period of unprecedented economic growth and social change in Ireland. It was also a period of continuing and intense engagement with the Northern Ireland peace process. On 8th May 2007 those years of work paid a rich dividend when a power sharing Administration was established in Northern Ireland. After nine years of unstinting political commitment this historic event represented the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and a great triumph for Mr. Ahern, Mr. Blair and the leaders of the Northern Ireland parties. On 14 June 2007, following a general election that saw his party, Fianna Fáil, returned to power Mr. Ahern was elected as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for the third time.

On the wider world stage during his Presidency of the European Council, from January 2004 to June 2004, Bertie Ahern presided over the historic enlargement of the European Union to 27 member states including eight countries from Eastern Europe. He led Ireland to take leadership roles on key global issues such as increasing aid to developing countries and tackling the spread of HIV AIDS. Bertie Ahern's achievements as a leader at home and abroad have been recognized internationally. He has been conferred with honorary degrees by several universities and is one of only five people to enjoy the great distinction of having been invited to address both the Houses of Parliament at Westminster and the Houses of Congress of the United States in Washington D.C. Mr Ahern has been involved in negotiations for most of his life. From industrial relations issues in his early years including major legislation reform.

As Minister for Finance he led the negotiations on the agreement of the Maastricht agreement and as President of the European Council he achieved consensus of the 27 countries to a European constitution. Over his entire career he has been central to reconciliation and negotiation on several fronts.

Since leaving Government in 2008 Bertie Ahern had dedicated his time to conflict resolution and is actively involved with many groups around the world.  

Mr. Ahern assumes the position of Co-Chair of the InterAction Council from Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada (1993 - 2003), who served as Co-Chair from 23 May 2007. He joins Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, who has served as Co-Chair since 2015.

About InterAction Council

Established in 1983 by the late Takeo Fukuda of Japan and Helmut Schmidt of Germany, the InterAction Council is an international organization whose objective is to address political, economic and social problems confronting humankind. The Council’s membership is comprised of forty former world leaders who jointly develop proposals for action and submit them directly to national and international decision-makers.

In its 33-year history, the InterAction Council has been at the forefront of many prominent issues, most notably the 1997 drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, a document that complements the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the 2010 Hiroshima Declaration, a powerful plea for the abolishment of nuclear weapons; and the 2012 report, The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue.

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Tanya Guy, tanya.guy(at)