Fresh from his latest encounter with the barristers from the Mahon tribunal, Bertie Ahern headed to Kerry to enjoy the horses at the Listowel Races.

(As far as I know, no one asked him if he had any good tips, a shame given the remarkable success he revealed in betting on the gee-gees at an earlier tribunal appearances.)

While in Kerry, the Bould Bertie was interviewed by George Hook, he of rugby punditry and Right Hook fame.

And that’s where it gets odd.

Clearly pining for the fjords of high office, Bertie informed Hook that he should be addressed by the title of Iar-Taoiseach.

Gaeilgeoirs later pointed out that the word, which means ex-Taoiseach, should be pronounced Iar-Thaoiseach. Then again, Bertie has problems with ‘Th’ in English, so why should the first official language be different?

So much for ‘titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the State‘.

Of course, there is a loophole. Taoiseach isn’t a title to begin with, noble or otherwise. It’s a job description.

The practice of referring to ministers (or even backbenchers) by their job titles has always struck me as particularly obsequious. Hook was right to ridicule Bertie’s suggestion.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.