Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern backs Scottish independence
A FORMER Irish prime minister said Scotland can achieve "huge success" if voters opted for independence, it was disclosed today.
Bertie Ahern, who resigned as Taoiseach last year, outlined his opinion in a letter to First Minister Alex Salmond.
Scotland's economy was "robust" and able to compete in a globalised world as an integral part of the European Union, he wrote.
But his "only proviso" for full independence was the cost, which he said Scotland's economists should analyse.
Ireland has previously been held up by the SNP leader as an example of economic success in an "arc of prosperity" alongside Iceland and Norway.
But opponents of independence point to the recent impact of the worldwide recession on these countries as a reason for Scotland to stay in the Union.
The letter was written following media reports that Mr Ahern thought the economic impact of independence may be too large to win support.
Mr Ahern wrote: "It took time and commitment over many years to build-up the Irish state into a model of economic success. That achievement vindicated the vision of the patriots of our past and the credit for it lies with the capacity and capabilities of the Irish people.
"I have no doubt that the Scottish people have the same ingenuity and commitment to achieve huge success should they decide to go down the route of full independence.
"That however is a matter for the Scottish people to ultimately decide and, as an Irish politician, I think it is best for me to not immerse myself in another country's national debate."
A spokesman for the First Minister said: "Bertie Ahern's letter is extremely welcome. He talks about Scotland's opportunities for success should we choose independence, and quite properly says that it is an issue for the people of Scotland to decide."
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