FORMER Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern gave some inspiring advice to would-be politicians as he visited Risca Community Comprehensive School yesterday.

Mr Ahern, who arrived in Newport for this year’s InterAction Council meeting at the Celtic Manor, was on hand to give advice to students and encourage them that the "sky is the limit".

After a tour of the school and a welcome by head teacher John Kendall, he told the students he realised he had to get into politics after struggling to get new facilities for his football team as a teenager.

He said: “Politics is everything. People think that politics is to do with Parliament but there’s politics in your schools, in your parents' workplace, in the bus and train companies. I realised when I was about 16 that we were not going to get a new pitch, a new dressing room unless I got involved in politics.”

When asked what his greatest achievement was, Mr Ahern told pupils: “The biggest thing was being able to negotiate the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.

“The agreement has stuck, it took us 10 years but it stopped people being killed. There was nothing more important than that.”

Mr Ahern also talked to pupils about the hardest thing he had to tackle - the financial crisis, joking that it was the reason he went grey in just six months.

Ahead of today's InterAction Council meeting, Mr Ahern told the Argus: “It’s always a bit of a think tank for good ideas. The conclusions are always written up and give back to the governments around the world.

“What I think is good about the council is we’ve got people from all ends of the world, not just Europe.You get a good overview of how things are perceived around the world, because most of it is private, you get a straight assessment.”

Mr Ahern said he was looking forward to a keynote address by Baroness Margaret Jay, daughter of former prime minister James Callaghan.

He was invited to be member of the council, a body of former heads of states who discuss global issues, four years ago after his retirement from parliament.

He has recently been involved in projects looking at the unrest in the Basque Country in Spain and Turkey.

Chris Evans, Islwyn MP, said Mr Ahern’s visit to Risca Comprehensive helped to “de-mystify politics”.

“I think it’s really important when you see people like Bertie on the TV and it makes you realise there are a real person too," he added.

“I think what Bertie had to say was inspiring, it shows that when you have aspirations you can achieve anything.

“I’m delighted for the students of Risca that they had a visit from a former prime minister, that doesn’t happen every day."