Charles Haughey: 1925-2003


Life
1925: [as gael., Cathal Ó hEochaidh]; b. Castlebar, Co. Mayo, 16th Sept.; son of Sean Haughey and Sara (née Williams), from Swatragh; brought up in Donnycarney, where his f. lived on army pension; ed. St. Joseph’s CBS, Dublin; UCD; King’s Inns; m. Maureen Lemass, dg. of Sean Lemass; worked in firm of accountants; stands unsuccessfully for Dáil as Fianna Fáil candidate, 1951; elected TD for Dublin North-East, 1957; purchased Grangemore, Raheny, 1957; appt. Parl. Secretary to Oscar Traynor, Minister of Justice, 1961; appt. Minister of Justice, 1961; intro. martial courts for IRA offenders; Minister for Agriculture, 1964-66; Minister for Finance 1966-70; stood aside for Jack Lynch in competition of Taoiseach, 1966; bought Abbeville, Kinsealy, Co. Dublin, 1969; injured in a riding accident on the morning of the budget, his speech being delivered by Lynch instead, 22 April 1970;
 
1970: dismissed from cabinet by Lynch and arrested on charges of conspiring to import arms, 6 May 1970; acquited in ensuing Arms Trial, notwithstanding conflict of evidence with his Minister of Defence James Gibbons; returned to front bench as Health spokesman, 1975; appt. Minister of Health, July 1977; introduced compromise contraception legislation by means of Health (Family Planning) Act of 1979 [ ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’]; elected leader of Fianna Fáil in favour of George Colley [44-38], 7 Dec., and elected Taoiseach in bitter contest [82-62], 11 Dec., 1979; calls Northern Ireland a ‘failed political entity’ in Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, 1980; loses general election, called on the head of HIV Fund of which he disapproved, 11 June 1981; removes whip from Charlie McCreevy on head of critical statements, Dec. 1981; Fianna Fail returns to power, Jan. 1982; revelations that funds assigned for civil aid in Northern Ireland had been applied to other purposes, supposedly to the IRA (as alleged by Magill in 1980); purchased Inishvickillane (or Inishvickillaun), a 170-acre island and the most southerly in the Blaskets 9 miles off Kerry; entertained George Mitterand and others there;
 
1983: takes whip from Desmond O’Malley on issue of Ireland Forum Report, 2 May 1983; leads opposition; Fianna Fáil re-elected 1987; called snap election, 1989; entered coalition with Progressive Democrats; resigned following disclosure by Seán Doherty of tapping of phones of Bruce Arnold and Geraldine Kennedy, 1992; object of derogatory studies by Colum Keena (Haughey’s Millions) Arnold (What Kind of Country?) and others; embroiled in financial scandals arising from disclosures about personal receipt of funds from Ben Dunne of Dunne’s Stores (‘Thank you, Big Fella’), leading to a series of committees of inquiry into financial corruption in Irish political life; object of charges brought by the DPP; Terry Keane [née Ann Teresa O’Donnell], fashion columnist and wife of high-court judge and later Chief Justice Ronan Keane, reveals her love-affair with Haughey of 27-yrs standing on “The Late Late Show”, 1999; Moriarty Tribunal investigates misuse of funds raised to pay for Brian Lenehan’s liver transplant, July 1999; agrees to repay £1 million tax bill;
 
2000: accused of betraying the ethos of Fianna Fáil by Bertie Ahern, May 2000; trial for obstructing McCracken Tribunal indefinitely postponed by High Court, June 2000; resumes evidence before Tribunal, Jan. 2001, disclaiming knowledge of financial gifts and transfers to Ansbacher account (Cayman Islands); admitted to Beaumont Hosp. with suspected heart failure, March 2001; Haughey family agrees to refund €5 million received in gifts disclosed by Moriarty Tribunal, March 2003; hospitalised with prostate cancer, April 2003; subject of 4-part RTÉ TV series, June-July 2005; d. of cancer, at home, [Tues.,] 13 June 2006; bur. with state funeral, attended by President Mary McAleese, and with oration by Bertie Ahern, Donnycarney, Fri. 16th June 2006; report of the Moriarty tribunal in Dec. 2006 finds that Haughey took payments of €11.56 million during 1979-96, granting favours in return; in 2011 his yacht Celtic Mist was offered by his family to the Whale and Dolphin Group; Abbeville was on the market for €7.5 in May 2012; Haughey is played by Aidan Gillen in a three-part TV drama series written by Colm Teevan, with Peter O&;146;Meara as Brian Lenehan, Lucy Cohu as Terry Keane, and Jody O'Neill as Geraldine Kennedy (for Irish Times editor) - transmitting from Sunday 4th Jan, 2014. FDA
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Works
‘Rural Sociology and Ireland’, in Éire-Ireland, 1, 4 (Winter 1966), pp. 63-68; The Spirit of the Nation, ed. Martin Mansergh (Cork: Mercier Press 1986). Also, an entry on ‘Aosdána’ in W. J. McCormack , ed., The Blackwell Companion to Modern Irish Culture (1999; 2001), p.21.

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Criticism
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Charlie: The Political Biography of Charles J. Haughey (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1987), 249pp.;
  • Bruce Arnold, Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds (London: HarperCollins 1993), 320pp., 12 ills.;
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Fallen Idol: Haughey’s Controversial Career (Mercier 1997), 191pp.;
  • Joe Joyce & Peter Murtagh, The Boss (Dublin: Poolbeg Press 1997), 400pp.;
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Short Fellow: A Biography of Charles J. Haughey (Dublin: Marino 1999), 477pp.;
  • Colm Keena, Haughey’s Millions: Charlie’s Trail (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2001), 300pp.;
  • Justin O’Brien, The Modern Prince: Charles J. Haughey and the Quest for Power (London: Merlin 2002), 320pp.;
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, 40 Years of Controversy (Cork: Mercier Press 2003), 224pp.;
  • Frank Dunlop, Yes, Taoiseach: Irish Politics from Behind Closed Doors (Penguin Ireland 2004), 362pp.;
  • T. Ryle Dwyer, Haughey’s Forty Years of Controversy (Cork: Mercier Press 2005), 254pp.
  • Angela Clifford, The Arms Conspiracy - Ireland, 1970: The Prosecution and Trial of Charles Haughey, Captain Kelly and Others (Belfast: Athol Books 2009), 720pp.
  • Angela Clifford, The Arms Crisis: What was it all about? [A Belfast Magazine] [4th in Arms Crisis Ser.] (Belfast: [Athol] 2009), 28pp.
  • Anthony Roche, ‘The Stuff of Tragedy?  Representations of Irish Political Leaders in the “Haughey” Plays of Carr, Barry and Breen’, in Irish Literature since 1990: Diverse Voices, ed. Scott Brewster & Michael Parker (Manchester UP 2009) [Chap. 3].
  • Elaine A. Byrne, Political Corruption in Ireland 1922-2010: A Crooked Harp? (Manchester UP 2012).
See also )
  • Peter Murtagh & Joe Joyce, ‘Charles Haughey Obituary’, in The Guardian (14.06.2006) - available online.
  • “Charles J. Haughey” Supplement, in The Irish Times (14 June 2006) [available to subscribers]

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Commentary
Brian Inglis, Downstarts (London: Chatto & Windus 1990): ‘Soon there was to be a different form of temptation for me to return to live and work in Ireland. “When, a hundred years from now, they are casting round for suitable centenaries to celebrate, I like to think that 1970 will be remembered as the year when poets first began to be repaid for their services as the unacknowledged legislators of the world”, I wrote at the time. “In the Republic of Ireland, this financial year, anybody who produces or has in the past produced ‘a book or other writing, a play, a musical composition, a painting or sculpture which is original and creative and which is regarded as having cultural or artistic merit’ will no longer be required to pay income tax on the proceeds”. The Minister for Finance in the Lemass government, Charles Haughey, had belied his reputation as “the Hard Man” by introducing the measure “to create a sympathetic environment here in which the arts can flourish”. It was a noble gesture; but, as Haughey himself admitted, it was unlikely to bring artists and writers in droves to Ireland. Few of them earned enough to pay much income tax anyway. […]’ (p.276.)

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Anthony Cronin relates: ‘When Haughey, whom he had known and admired at University College Dublin, asked him, after the funeral of Pádraic Colum, in 1972, for help with a speech on the State and the arts he was due to give at Harvard, Cronin had the feeling that “if I got him to deliver some of my ideas on support for the artist in his speech he could be locked into them”. It turned out to be a good bet on a politician who was then in the wilderness, and the result is Aosdána.’ (Fintan O’Toole [interview article], ‘Unfairly Neglected? Not Now’, The Irish Times (Thurs, 26 Nov. 2004.)

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Jarlath Killeen, ‘Irish Gothic: A Theoretical Introduction’, in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, 1 (Oct. 2006): ‘However, the Irish Gothic, understood as a form of perpetual hesitancy, may not be altogether possible in Celtic Tiger Ireland since it appears that the Irish have finally made a choice and rejected the hyphenated mind of the past. Gothic Ireland now exists only as a tourist virtual reality. Perhaps the last great Irish figure who could be considered a Gothic ‘hero’ was Charles J. Haughey, a monumental cultural hesitator in the best sense of the term. A political and social modernizer and innovator (seen in his judicial reforms, especially the Succession Act, his development of Temple Bar, his handling of the presidency of the EC in 1990), he was nonetheless reviled by his fellow cosmopolitans because he spoke in the language of what they considered atavistic tribal nationalism (despite his importance to the Peace Process), and, in the eyes of the high priests of modernity he was seen as a monster needing a stake through his heart. Ireland of the 1970s and 1980s often appeared to resemble the plot of a Gothic novel, Garret the Good chasing down Charlie the Bad across an increasingly improbable plot, a battle won when Brian Lenihan – closely associated with the Haughey element in Irish politics – lost the Presidential election to the liberal Mary Robinson, a woman associated with the ‘right’ side of recent ideological battles between stereotyped traditionalists and modernisers.’ [Cont.]

Jarlath Killeen (‘Irish Gothic: A Theoretical Introduction’, 2006) - cont.: ‘The truth was, as usual, more complex. Haughey, like the Anglo-Irish writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, had his feet firmly in two camps, and pointed in two directions: towards an unreal and weird landscape he called (in a now notorious Channel Four documentary) ‘Charles Haughey’s Ireland’, and towards the virtual reality future of the Irish Financial Services Centre. Perpetually hesitating between these two modes, Haughey effectively instantiated a schizophrenic Ireland unable to decide whether its future lay in the past or the present. In the end, as Ivana Bacik has put it, Ireland was dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into postmodernity through three abortion referenda, two divorce referenda, and a host of other, bitterly divisive, changes. When Haughey died in June 2006, the Gothic Ireland recognised by Maturin, a place where all manner of things were possible, a GUBU land of the imagination, also passed on. While some popped unseemly corks of celebration at Haughey’s death – the death, so it seemed to them, of an Ireland they despised, an dark Ireland of the deep past – others reflected, like Lord Glenthorn in Edgeworth’s Ennui, that perhaps with the coming about of this new modern Ireland something frightening, fractious, dangerous, but exciting and stimulating had been lost. However, as Declan Kiberd has reminded us, Irish traditions are at their most vital when they have been proclaimed about to die [Irish Classics, 2000, passim], so perhaps the ghosts of Maturin, Le Fanu, Stoker, and Haughey are ready for a dramatic and truly terrifying revival.’ [End; online.]

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Catriona Crowe: ‘Testimony to the Flowering’, in The Dublin Review [n.s.; ed. Brendan Barrington] (Spring 2003): ‘Mr Haughey must have taken some pleasure in Seamus Deane’s words about him in the anthology: “he skilfully combines de Valera’s meticulously crafted republicanism with Seán Lemass’s best possible blend of cosmopolitan modernity and ancestral loyalty for present-day Ireland”’. (Available online; accessed 07.11.2011.)

Geraldine Kennedy & Joe Joyce, ‘Inside the grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, unprecedented events of 1982’, in The Irish Times (29 Sept. 2012) [on Dept. of Justice civil servant Jim Kirby’s diary]: ‘Charles Haughey in government was a greater threat to the stability and security of the State than the IRA, according to Kirby, who headed the department’s security section at the height of the Troubles. Kirby believes that Haughey’s style of leadership, bypassing many administrative norms, such as involving his ministers and heads of government departments, led to an extremely unhealthy situation in which he expected people in the public service to do his bidding. Those who didn’t were penalised. “As taoiseach he thought he was monarch of all he surveyed,” Kirby says. “He controlled the police to a huge extent. He liked to contact middle-ranking civil servants all over the place, getting them to do things, sometimes without the knowledge of their superiors or ministers, as was borne out by the evidence given before the Moriarty tribunal. And if they weren’t prepared to do the things he wanted them to do they were effectively sidelined. “You might say that he was simply cutting through the bureaucracy, but part of the reason the bureaucracy exists in the way that it does is to prevent people in power from behaving like he did.” This tendency was most apparent during Haughey’s short-lived but tempestuous government in 1982, during which reporters’ phones were tapped, opponents were physically and verbally intimidated, Fianna Fáil politicians bugged each other’s conversations, and people in different walks of life feared Haughey’s anger, among them the country’s biggest bank, AIB, which told lies in public and private in order to protect him. [...]’ (Available online; accessed 03.01.2013.)  

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Peter Murtagh & Joe Joyce, Charles Haughey obituary, in The Guardian (14 June 2006): ‘[...] In 1970, he was sensationally fired and charged with conspiracy to import guns for the IRA. His sacking, and that of his colleague, Neil Blaney, threatened Fianna Fáil with its greatest crisis. After a lengthy trial, Haughey and three others were acquitted. But the case and his dismissal from office poisoned his relations with Lynch and a large section of the party. The episode came to dominate his career, generating a cloud of suspicion and personal feuds that he was never able fully to shake off. / Haughey spent the next seven years in the political wilderness, but did not abandon his ambition to become prime minister, despite the humiliation he suffered when an early challenge to Lynch collapsed. He began the slow business of rehabilitating himself within Fianna Fáil by subjugating his personal feelings and joining former cabinet colleagues - one of whom had been the main prosecution witness at his trial - in a vote of confidence in the Dail. (By contrast, Blaney chose expulsion from the party.) / From 1970 until 1977 Haughey courted the Fianna Fáil grassroots by assiduously attending local party functions on the “chicken and ham dinner circuit”. His perseverance paid off when Fianna Fáil was returned to power, and Lynch was forced to acknowledge Haughey’s position by appointing him as health minister. He promptly legalised birth control with a politically adroit measure - described by him as “an Irish solution to an Irish problem” - which made all contraceptives subject to medical prescription. / Lynch’s authority was weakened by two disastrous by-election results and claims that he had agreed to allow British helicopters to fly over the border in pursuit of the Provisional IRA. Amid sniping from the backbenches, Lynch resigned in 1979, and Haughey beat his rival, George Colley, for the leadership. / As prime minister, however, Haughey proved a disappointment, especially to those hard-pressed businessmen who thought he would be decisive - and do for the country what he had mysteriously managed to do for himself: make money. Having achieved his political goal, he seemed paralysed into inactivity, apparently incapable of exercising the power he had sought for so long. Unemployment grew rapidly and the public sector saw massive pay increases, despite a continuing deterioration of the economy. [...]’ (See full text version in RICORSO Library > Criticism > Reviews - as attached.)

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Notes
GUBU: ‘Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented’ (GUBU) were the epithets employed by Haughey in response to the arrest of the homocide MacArthur in the home of the Attorney-General in 1982, became Conor Cruise O’Brien’s name for the Haughey ethos and the title of a collection of satirical poems by W. J. McCormack. (See also his remark professing not to wiling to believe that Haughey is politically dead until he sees him staked at the crossroads and bedecked with garlic - copied under Bram Stoker, infra.)

Failed pol. entity: Charles Haughey coined the phrase ‘a failed political entity’ to describe Northern Ireland in his first speech as Fianna Fáil leader in 1979. (See Conor McCarthy, Modernisation: Crisis and Culture in Ireland 1969-1992, Four Courts Press 2000, p.11, quoting The Spirit of the Nation, ed. Martin Mansergh, Mercier Press 1986, pp.327, 335.)

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In the flesh?: Charles Haughey is the putative subject of a play by Sebastian Barry (Hinterland, 2002), which met with strong opposition from the critical establishment for its dramatic treatment of the politician’s private life and for its supposed failure to engage with the moral seriousness of the issues raise. (See under Barry, infra.)

The Moriarty tribunal [found] that the late Charles Haughey took payments of €11.56 million, the equivalent of up to €45 million in today’s money, between 1979 and 1996, and granted favours in return. (Irish Times, 20 Dec. 2006). See also response of TDs to published report in the Dáil debate (The Irish Times, 15 Feb. 2007).

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Abbeville: Haughey’s house Abbeville at Kinsealy, Malahide, co. Dublin, was leased by Thomas Montgomery as his Dublin residence in 1736 while sitting MP for Lifford, Co Donegal. His son Richard Montgomery was the American Revolutionary General who too Montreal from the British in 1775. The information was discovered by Mark FitzGerald, son of former taoiseach, Garrett FitzGerald and managing director of Sherry FitzGerald when handling the sale of the Malahide estate for the receiver Kavanagh Fennell at an estimated sale price of €5.5 million – a seventh of what Manor Park Homes paid for it in 2003. (See The Irish Times, 21 May 2013.)

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Inishvickillane (1): Inishvickillane Island (off the Blaskets): A voluminous archive of papers and photograps relating to Haughey’s ownership of the island donated by his family has been digitised and displayed at the Blascaod Centre in Dun Chaoin. Haughey attempted to restore sea eagles to the island but these were mobbed by the big gulls and ravens so that Aillil, the male, was found dead on the beach at Waterville and Maeve, the female, an intermittent visitor, finally disappeared. Nine red deer were also flown in from Killarney and now number 90, having been interbred with Sika deer from the mainland. See Michael Viney, “Another Life”, 16 April 2011, Weekend Review, p.6.) Also reports that the Haughey family have offered his yacht Celtic Mist to the Irish Whale and Dolphin group, having previously been offered for sale at €175,000. On the Haughey archive at Dun Chaoin, see also report in Irish Times, 11 April 2011.

Inishvickillane (2): see Mícheál Ó Dubhshláine, Inisvickillane: A Unique Portrait of the Blasket Island (Drandon Press 2009), 284pp. + 24pp. of photos. Written by a Kildare-born schoolteacher who spent thirty years at Dun Chaoin NS in Corca Dhuibhne. The work is not Haughey-centred.

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