The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has responded to comments made by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, on the formation of a Government after the next General Election.

Mr McDowell, who is President of the Progressive Democrats, had said it would not matter whether Mr Ahern or the Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, was the next Taoiseach.

He told a PD meeting in Waterford that it would be the Junior Coalition party that defined the direction of the next Government.

Speaking at a Fianna Fáil function in Athy in Co Kildare last night, the Taoiseach recalled that, at the last General Election, his party failed to win five seats by just under 65 votes.

Mr Ahern remarked that if his party had won those seats, small parties would not have had any role at all.