Maurice Hayes

1927- [M. N. Hayes]; b. Killough, Co. Down, son of Waterford man who fought in World War I, and Kerry girl who worked in Dublin and fled to Belfast after the Rising where he owned a pub, going on to become manager of Denver’s Hotel, Downpatrick; ed. De La Salle Brothers, Downpatrick; played hurling for his county; read English at Queen’s University, Belfast; grad. PhD; taught for seven years in Downpatrick, and became Town Clerk; fluent Irish-speaker; followed career of civil servant, acting Permanent Secretary to the Health & Social Services, 1983-87;

acted as the senior Catholic civil servant at Stormont, post-Sunningdale; supplied weekly reports on politics in the “Irish Republic” to the Northern Ireland Executive, 1974; chaired Belfast Areas of Special Social Need Committee to March 1975; head of personnel for the Northern Ireland Civil Service, secretary to the County Down Gaelic Athletic Association, and a member of the Senate at Queens University in Belfast, before assuming the post of Ombudsman (Community Relations Commission) for N. Ireland on retirement;

resigned chair after Bloody Sunday (29 Jan. 1972); issued Sweet Killough, Let Go Your Anchor (1994), a celebration of his native community; also Minority Verdict (1995), recording ‘the experiences of a Catholic public servant’; issued a second part of his autobiography as Black Puddings with Slim (1996); member of Patton Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland, Chairman of Northern Ireland Hospitals Review;

elected independent Senator in Oireachtas (Republic of Ireland), on nomination of Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach), 1997 [21st & 22nd Seanads]; Board member of Independent News & Media; a director of Regtel; governor of the Linenhall Library, Belfast; and a member of the Royal Irish Academy; Chairman of International Ireland Funds Board and Advisory Committee; Chairman of the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Prize and Bursary Committees (Dublin); voted European Person of the Year in 2003; unveiled a commemorative statue of Bryan MacMahon in Listowel during Writers’ Week, 2005; long-serving non-executive director of Independent News & Media Plc, retiring in 2009; d. Dec. 2017; bur. Armagh Cathedral.

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Sweet Killough, Let Go Your Anchor
(Belfast: Blackstaff 1994; Chester Springs: Dufour 1995), 219pp. [0 85640 528 0]; Minority Verdict: Experiences of a Catholic Public Servant (Belfast: Blackstaff; Chester Springs: Dufour Edns. 1995), 336pp.; Black Puddings with Slim: A Downpatrick Boyhood (Belfast: Blackstaff 1996), 192[258]pp.

Professional reports, Community Relations and the Role of the Community Relations Commission in Northern Ireland [Runnymede Lecture 15 June, 1972] (1972), 9pp.; Conflict Research [Univ. of Ulster: Centre for the Study of Conflict Ser.; No. 2] (1990) [as Chairman,] Ireland: Look the Land is Bright: Ireland Funds Conference - Kilkenny (1990), 32pp.; National Forum on Europe - Chairman’s Report: The First Phase of Work of the National Forum on Europe, October 2001 to January 2002 (2002); A Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland?: A Review of the Police Complaints System in Northern Ireland (1996, 1997); [as Commissioner,] Recommendations for the Grouping of Wards into District Electoral Areas for the Purpose of Local Government Elections in Northern Ireland: Report by the District Electoral Areas (1992) Why Can’t They Be Like Us?: A Lecture Dedicated to the Memory of John Malone (1984).

See also his report to the Northern Executive in February 1974 on [inter alia] Conor Cruise O’Brien’s attempt to split Fianna Fail policy on the North - under O’Brien, Commentary [infra.]

Miscellaneous, ed., The Flight Path: Writings by the Winners of the American Ireland Fund Literary Award 1972-1996 (1996), 91pp.; ‘A Tract for the Times: Lynch's poem on the North’, review of Pity for the Wicked , in The Irish Independent (q.d.) [infra].

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Douglas Carson, review of Maurice Hayes, Sweet Killough, in Summer Books, Supplement with Fortnight, 330, Aug., p.7; Robert Greacen find much to praise in Black Pudding with Slim, in Books Ireland (Dec. 1996, p.356). See also Commentary, infra.

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Sean MacMahon, review of Minority Verdict, in Books Ireland (Nov. 1995), p.286, Minority Report ‘not intended as autobiography’, acc. Hayes, who sees ‘the true role of the senior public servant is to exercise a challenge function, to remind the emperor that he has no clothes’.

Fergus Pyle reviews Minority Report, in The Irish Times (12.8.1995)., and quotes passages, incl. ‘What you got with Maudling was the impression of a man of massive intelligence, only partly in gear, which moved sideways towards the problem, like a crab, and then scuttled back into its hole without actually coming to grips with it.’

Marianne Elliott, ‘Besieged by rhetoric’, review of Minority Verdict, with other works on N. Ireland, in Times Literary Supplement (9 Feb. 1996), pp.4-5: There is a fair amount of parish pump stuff in Minority Report, but also a sense of the absurd and impatience with cant. It is a wonderful book, at times hilariously funny, at times despairing of the pettiness, point-scoring, double-speak and sheer ineptitude which allowed the Troubles to continue for so long. The way in which Northern Ireland has been a hostage to changing political regimes in both London and Dublin is graphically described ... Hayes’s insight into character is flawless ... All in all this compassionate book is a morality tale which should be read [&c.].’ (p.4)

C. E. Brett, review of Minority Report, in Linen Hall Review (Winter 1995-96),quotes, ‘There was in all that time no injustice, no unfairness, no degree of discrimination, that was worth the sacrifice of a single life. And the conflict, which has cost three thousand [lives], and ten times that number of maimed and injured, and tens of thousands traumatised and embittered, bas only driven the communities farther apart.’ [end; here pp.18-19.)

Vincent Brown, ‘Educating the Irish Electorate’ , interview with Maurice Hayes, The Irish Times (12 Jan. 2002, Weekend, p.8) [gives biog., as Life, supra]; recounts that Hayes drank whiskey at the ‘wake’ of Sunningdale with Brian Faulkner and John Hume, May 1974); later head of Dept. of Health; Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and head of commission that set up the Police Ombudsmanship; chair of review of hospitals in Northern Ireland; Senator in Oireachtas (Republic of Ireland), on invitation of Bertie Ahern, 1997; Board of Independent News & Media. Brown questions him chiefly on the non-implementation of the full measures of the Patten Commission recommendations on the Northern Ireland Police Service; Hayes expresses his concern that the Special Branch members not be ‘bracketted along with the ordinary crime branch under the same assistant constable and secondly, that there shouldn’t be endless tenure that nobody should be left long [in the Special Branch] that the organisation would take on a personality of its own, separate from the rest of the force. I didn’t think we were asking for anything outlandish [...].’ Hayes suggests looking abroad for a successor to Ronnie Flanagan (NI Commissioner of Police); discusses complexities of EU Nice Treaty: ’those are the things that we are hearing. Basically, what is coming through [at the forum] is that there is no strong voice expressed against enlargement per se, that there was no antipathy to any of the applicant countries but there were serious concerns and reservations about things like neutrality and governance and about accessibility.’ Favours a referendum on the same day as the general election: ‘that’s if we are having a referendum but I don’t think it will happen.’

Laurence White, ‘Maurice Hayes: Man of great integrity who was fair-minded but forthright’ (Belfast Telegraph, 26 Dec. 2017) [Obituary with photo of Hayes taken in interview by Eamonn Maillie.

MAURICE HAYES, who has died at the age of 90, was a towering figure in the civic life of Northern Ireland and whose wisdom and influence also spanned the whole of the island.
  A native of Killough in Co Down, he was educated at Queen’s University in Belfast where he obtained a PhD in English and then began a career teaching in St Patrick’s Grammar School in Downpatrick.
  It was also good training for a man who in 1973 became assistant secretary in the office of the ill-fated power-sharing Executive at Stormont which was brought crashing down by the Ulster Workers’ Council strike.
  Yet he was to go on to make a huge success of his career in the Civil Service, becoming Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and Social Services. It was a role which brought to the attention of a wider audience his skills and ability to see all sides of an argument.
  Those were attributes which he was to utilise throughout his life, not least when he was appointed to the Patten Commission which oversaw the transformation of the RUC into the present-day PSNI. Dr Hayes was a major contributor to that report and even though the disbandment of the RUC was controversial in unionist minds, his role attracted no personal criticism, a measure of the fair-mindedness which marked his contribution to civic life in whatever sphere he performed. He became the first Catholic to hold the post of Ombudsman in Northern Ireland and in one interview with journalist Eamonn Mallie described the driving force behind his pursuit of perfection in his career: “I believed that I had to prove that a Catholic could do the job as well as anyone else.”
In his inimitable, subtle way that was a reference to the often voiced criticism of Catholics by the unionist majority in civic positions. What he certainly proved was that he could do the job - whatever it entailed - to a standard beyond reproach.
  He served two terms as an independent in the Irish Senate as a nominee of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 1997 and 2002.
  Other roles in the Republic included an investigation into a scandal at the radiology department of Tallaght Hospital outside Dublin and chairing, at the Taoiseach’s request, the National Forum on Europe, an attempt to educate the wider public on the big European issues of the day.
  Such was Dr Hayes’ ability to distil even the most complex subject matter into easily understood concepts that other European countries decided to replicate the Forum for their own national audiences. In 2003 he was voted European Person of the Year.
  He also chaired The Ireland Funds which dispensed money garnered from various international sources for use by civic and business groups.
  Dr Hayes was a long serving non-executive director on the board of Independent News and Media, the owners of this newspaper, until his resignation in 2009. Later, he was to become a governor of the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, was admitted to the prestigious Royal Irish Academy and served on the Research Ethical Committee of Queen’s University in Belfast. His contribution to life on both sides of the border was marked by honorary degrees from Queen’s, the University of Ulster, Trinity College Dublin, UCD and the National University of Ireland.
  One of the achievements which came earliest in his life was also one of his proudest.
  In 1960 he was credited with masterminding the Down GAA football team’s winning of the Sam Maguire All-Ireland football trophy, the first time it had come north of the border. Indeed, the county was to win the trophy several more times before another Ulster county took over the mantle. A former hurler for the county and an Irish speaker, he was a man steeped in the GAA traditions, yet he never allowed himself to be defined in the stereotypical manner with which Northern Ireland people love to pigeon hole each other. Instead he had a breadth of vision and the ability to move effortlessly across what others regarded as boundaries to create genuine conversations on how to make life here better for the greater number of people.
  He wrote three volumes of memoirs, Sweet Killough, Let Go Your Anchor; Black Puddings With Slim: A Downpatrick Boyhood, and Minority Verdict: Experiences of a Catholic Civil Servant. In the latter publication, he observed: “I would argue too that a person can inhabit more than one cultural space at the same time, can move in more than one cultural milieu. It is the overlapping of these existences ... that provide the real excitement in life.”
  He also wrote prolifically on issues as wide-ranging as conflict resolution and book reviews, often using his own insider experience to put the work under review in its proper context.
  While he was a man forever keen to see all sides to an argument or issue, he could be quite forthright in his own views when the occasion demanded it.
  Earlier this year the fluent Irish speaker described the political impasse at Stormont over Sinn Fein’s demands for a stand-alone Irish Language Act as ’madness’ at a time when the National Health Service was crumbling and in need of political direction. He also criticised the DUP for its general lack of respect. But in general he was a man who tended to change attitudes more subtly and through the force of his intellect. He was also regarded as witty company by those who knew him well and the breadth of his knowledge made him a very welcome companion at any event.
  His impact on civic life on both parts of this island were illustrated by the wide range of tributes paid to him after his death in Downe Hospital, Downpatrick was announced.
  He is survived by his wife Johanna (Joan) and children Clodagh, Margaret, Dara, Garrett and Ronan and his eight grandchildren.

—Available at Belfast Telegraph - online; accessed 05.03.2021.

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Brian Walker, ‘Maurice Hayes, the best of the best’, in Slugger O’Toole’ (24 Dec. 2017).

 This is an immediate response to the passing of Maurice Hayes at the age of 90, the best of the best of his own and any generation. His long and distinguished life deserves much fuller treatment.
 In the early tributes much has rightly been made of his achievements as a Northern Catholic, gaeilgeoir and GAA player, the young Town Clerk of Downpatrick in the 1950s, the chairman of the brand new and belated Community Relations Commission honourably failing to stem the rush towards collapse and the Ombudsman and Irish senator around the turn of the millennium.
 His comment to Eamonn Mallie is appropriate yet so very poignant, as civil service head of the department of health, “I believed I had to prove a Catholic could do as good a job as anybody else”.
 Though he was all of that, Maurice was much, much more than a pathfinder for later generations of Catholics. His whole public life was a lesson to all in how to behave as a human being and produce results as an official.
 He was no mere administrator whose brain stopped after he’d written a balanced analysis for a minister. He was an expert pilot through the treacherous shoals of sectarianism to make highly controversial radical change. He was a key figure in the reform of the police which the commission chair Chris Patten described to me as “the best thing I have ever done”.
 As we knew from his newspaper columns, Maurice wasn’t preachy or pious. His temperament was warm and generous, his intellect ranged from the utterly practical to the philosophical, his style was wry and witty and his range of interest stretched to the horizons.
 In the BBC I was privileged to recommend him as a member of the Northern Ireland team for the demanding Round Britain Quiz on Radio 4 in the late eighties.
 He greatly loved our rich culture for its diversity. Being entirely comfortable with it, he had the confidence and authority to mock its divisiveness.
 Only months ago he observed: “For Christ’s sake what does a language act do for an old guy looking for a heart by pass?” The DUP he said indeed “lacked respect. They can never pass a cause without giving it a kick”.
 I hope after the holiday he’ll receive a properly considered obituary,
 It is a reproach to us that it took a person of the quality of Maurice Hayes just to prevent our society from falling into chaos. But it was through his achievement and witness alongside too few like him, that we’ve managed it so far.

—Available at Slugger O’Toole - online; accessed 05.03.2021.


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Special relationships; review of Paul Arthur, Special Relationships (2001): ‘Arthur argues, perceptively, that an agreement is only part of a peace process. He typifies everything since 1985 [Anglo-Irish Agreement] as an interim stage in the process, and opines that it is too early to say when it will come to an end. What is remarkably like Mao’s judgement [?recte Ho Chi Minh’s ] on the effects of the French Revolution.’ [END] (The Irish Times, 7 April 2001.)

Irish Republic: Official reports to to the Northern Executive (February 1974- ), held in NI Public Records Office, quoted in Margaret O’Callaghan, ‘Our Man in Dublin’ [on Hayes], Fortnight, Feb. 2005), p.8-9: ‘It seems the Irish government is living in some fear of a British withdrawal from the situation. The feeling is that if the army came under attack from Protestants, rather than be involved in a trilateral situation, there would be military pressure to which politicians, particularly Labour politicians, would rapidly succomb, to withdraw forces from Northern Ireland. It is further thought that such a withdrawl would be a fairly rapid and decisive affair. The Southern policy is therefore likely to concentrate on encouraging the British Army to stay, on encouraging Loyalists in whatever way possible to share power with the Catholics, on encouraging the Catholics to come to terms realistically with the Protestants, and on ensuring that there is a political settlement before there is any suggestion of a withdrawal.’ (See further under Conor Cruise O’Brien, infra.

The Courage of Gerry Fitt”: ‘Madam - I would like to correct the impression that may have been given by your obituary of Lord Fitt in last Saturday’s edition that I had engaged in attacking the reputation of the man before he was cold in the grave. / The obituary draws on my book Minority Verdict for remarks which are critical of Gerry Fitt, taken out of context and without the balancing quotations which would have given a more rounded view. / I would like to make it clear that I had no communication with the writer of what I otherwise found to be a comprehensive and balanced obituary. /. My own assessment of Gerry Fitt’s role in Irish politics is very close to that expressed in your own Editorial, on which I congratulate you. He was a courageous, man who cared for people and gave leadership at a difficult time in the North - for which he deserves to be recognised. Yours, &c., Maurice Hayes, Downpatrick, Co Down.’ (“Letters”, The Irish Times, 30 Aug. 2005.)

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Brian Lenihan, the Fianna Fail minister, reviewed Minority Verdict (1995), for the Irish Independent shortly before his death, calling it an ‘astute and sometimes acerbic in pithy anecdotes on a number of public personalities’ (as quoted in Blackstaff Catalogue, 1996).

Glucksman House: Maurice Hayes reads from Minority Verdict: Experiences of a Catholic Public Servant (Dufour 1995), at Glucksman Ireland House, Centre for Irish Studies at NY University, 8 May 1996.

Michael Longley’s poem “Chenec” in The Ghost Orchid (1995), p.29, is dedicated to Maurice Hayes.

Belfast: Areas of Special Social Need Committee, chaired by M. N. Hayes to March 1975 and by J. M. C. Parke from May 1975; report issued 1977.

Hospitals Review: Dr Maurice Hayes, former ombudsman and permanent sec. of Dept. of Health 1983-87, chaired Acute Hospitals Review Group, with eight others senior in the medical, academic and health provision sectors; calls for focusing of accident and emergency services in nine hospitals and a downgrading of A&E services in five. (See The Irish Times, 21, June 2001.)

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