Charles Haughey

Charles Haughey
Charles Haughey
In office
10 March 1987 – 11 February 1992
Tánaiste Brian Lenihan
John Wilson
Preceded by Garret FitzGerald
Succeeded by Albert Reynolds
In office
9 March 1982 – 14 December 1982
Tánaiste Ray MacSharry
Preceded by Garret FitzGerald
Succeeded by Garret FitzGerald
In office
11 December 1979 – 30 June 1981
Tánaiste George Colley
Preceded by Jack Lynch
Succeeded by Garret FitzGerald
Minister for the Gaeltacht
In office
10 March 1987 – 11 February 1992
Preceded by Paddy O'Toole
Succeeded by John Wilson
Minister for Social Welfare
In office
Preceded by Brendan Corish
Succeeded by Michael Woods
Minister for Health
In office
Preceded by Brendan Corish
Succeeded by Michael Woods
Minister for Finance
In office
Preceded by Jack Lynch
Succeeded by George Colley
Minister for Agriculture
In office
Preceded by Paddy Smith
Succeeded by Neil Blaney (Agriculture and Fisheries)
Minister for Justice
In office
Preceded by Oscar Traynor
Succeeded by Brian Lenihan
Personal details
Born 16 September 1925(1925-09-16)
Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland
Died 13 June 2006(2006-06-13) (aged 80)
Kinsealy, County Dublin, Ireland
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Maureen Lemass
Children 4
Religion Roman Catholicism

Charles James "Charlie" Haughey (16 September 1925 – 13 June 2006) was Taoiseach of Ireland, serving three terms in office (from December 1979 to June 1981, March 1982 to December 1982, and March 1987 to February 1992).[1] He was also the fourth leader of Fianna Fáil (from 1979 until 1992). Haughey was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin North East in 1957, and was re-elected in each election until 1992. Haughey also served as Minister for Health and Social Welfare (1977–1979), Minister for Finance (1966–1970), Minister for Agriculture (1964–1966) and Minister for Justice (1961–1964). He also served as a Parliamentary Secretary during the early years of his parliamentary career.

Haughey is generally regarded as the dominant Irish politician of his generation,[2] as well as the most controversial.[3] Upon entering government in the early 1960s, Haughey became the symbol of a new vanguard of Irish ministers, with a promising future in service to the Republic.[4] As Taoiseach, he is credited by some economists as starting the positive transformation of the economy in the late 1980s.[5] However, his career was also marked by several major scandals. Haughey was implicated in the Arms Crisis of 1970, which nearly destroyed his career. His political reputation revived, his tenure as Taoiseach was then damaged by the sensational GUBU Affair in 1982; his party leadership was challenged four times, each time unsuccessfully, earning Haughey the nickname "The Great Houdini."[3] Revelations about his role in a phone tapping scandal forced him to resign as Taoiseach and retire from politics in 1992.

Further scandals emerged after Haughey's retirement, when revelations of corruption, embezzlement, tax evasion and a 27-year extra-marital affair destroyed his reputation.[6] Still mired in scandal, he died of prostate cancer in 2006 at the age of eighty.[7]


Early life

He was born in Castlebar, County Mayo in 1925, the third of seven children of John Haughey and Sarah McWilliams, both natives of Swatragh, County Londonderry, Catholic nationalists in what would become part of Northern Ireland. Haughey's father was in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence, then in the army of the Irish Free State. His father left the army in 1928 and the family moved to County Meath. His father developed multiple sclerosis and the family moved to Donnycarney, where Haughey spent his youth.[8][9]

Haughey was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers at St. Joseph's secondary school in Fairview, where one of his classmates was George Colley, subsequently his cabinet colleague and rival in Fianna Fáil. In his youth, he was an amateur sportsman, playing Gaelic football with the Parnell GAA Club in Donnycarney. Haughey read Commerce at University College Dublin (UCD) where he took a First Class Honours degree in 1946. It was at UCD that Haughey became increasingly interested in politics and was elected Auditor of the Commerce and Economics Society. He also met there with one of his future political rivals, Garret FitzGerald.[10]

He joined the Local Defence Force during The Emergency of 1939–1945 and considered a permanent career in the Army. He continued to serve with the Army Reserve through its transition to the F.C.Á. until entering the Dáil in 1957.[11]

On VE-day Haughey and other UCD students burned the British Union Jack on College Green, outside Trinity College, Dublin, in response to a perceived disrespect afforded the Irish tricolour among the flags hung by the College in celebration of the Allied victory which ended World War II. [4][12]

Haughey qualified as a Chartered Accountant and also attended King's Inns subsequently being called to the Irish Bar. Shortly afterwards he set up the accountancy firm of Haughey, Boland & Company.

On 18 September 1951, he married Maureen Lemass, the daughter of the Fianna Fáil Minister and future Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, having been close to her since their days at UCD, where they first met.[9] They had four children together – Eimear, Conor, Ciarán and Seán.[9]

After selling his house in Raheny, in 1969 Haughey bought Abbeville, located at Kinsealy, north County Dublin, an historic house — once owned by Anglo-Irish politician John Beresford (d. 1805) for whom it had been extensively re-designed by the architect James Gandon in the late 18th century. Haughey purchased its existing estate of approximately 250 acres at the same time. It became the family home and he lived there for the rest of his life.[13]

First forays into politics

He started his political career as a local councillor, first failing in a by-election to Dáil Éireann. Haughey's first attempt at election to the Dáil came in June 1951, when he unsuccessfully contested the general election.[14] While living in Raheny, Haughey was first elected to the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil TD at the 1957 general election for the Dublin North East constituency.[15] It was his fourth attempt. Haughey obtained his first government position, that of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice, and his constituency colleague, Oscar Traynor, in 1960.

It is unclear whether the choice was made by Lemass directly as Taoiseach, or by the cabinet against his wishes.[16] Lemass had advised Haughey;

As Taoiseach it is my duty to offer you the post of parliamentary secretary, and as your father-in-law I am advising you not to take it.[17]

Haughey ignored Lemass's advice and accepted the offer. Though as the junior to Oscar Traynor, Haughey was the de facto minister.[18] Haughey and Traynor clashed openly. Defenders of Haughey portray the disagreement as being due to his ability and radical ideas, which were upsetting for the more conservative older minister.[citation needed] When Traynor retired in 1961, Haughey succeeded him as Minister for Justice.

Haughey came to epitomise the new style of politician — the "men in the mohair suits". He regularly socialised with other younger Cabinet colleagues such as Donogh O'Malley and Brian Lenihan.[4]

By day he impressed the Dáil. By night he basked in the admiration of a fashionable audience in the Russell Hotel. There, or in Dublin's more expensive restaurants, the company included artists, musicians and entertainers, professionals, builders and business people. His companions, Lenihan and O'Malley, took mischievous delight in entertaining the Russell with tales of the Old Guard. O'Malley in turn entertained the company in Limerick's Brazen Head or Cruise's Hotel with accounts of the crowd in the Russell. On the wings of such tales Haughey's reputation spread.

Haughey in his post as Minister for Justice, initiated an extensive scale of legislative reforms. He introduced new legislation including the Succession Act, which protected the inheritance rights of wives and children,[19] and the Extradition Act. Haughey also introduced the Special Military Courts which helped to defeat the Irish Republican Army's Border Campaign.[4] Haughey was considered a reforming Minister for Justice.[4]

1962 Farmers' Strike

In 1962 Lemass appointed Haughey as Minister for Agriculture.[20] Criticism from the National Farmers Association (NFA) of the appointment of a non-rural person to head Irish agriculture was voiced, and led to increased antagonism from farmers towards the government. Haughey became embroiled in a series of controversies with the NFA (National Farmers Association) and another organisation, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).[4] 27 ICSMA picketers outside Leinster House (the parliament building) were arrested on the 27 April 1966 under the Offences Against the State Act, an Act usually reserved for use against terrorists. 78 were arrested the following day, and 80 a day later, as the dispute escalated. This was an excessive step against farmers who were protesting on issues affecting their economic livelihood. The general public was supportive of the farmers, who were not in a position to hold a strike to air their grievances, and who were clearly only posing a problem to the minister, rather than the state. The farmers for their part, now started a national solidarity campaign, where even farmers who supported Fianna Fáil, turned stubbornly against the government. Haughey, who did not rely on rural voters, was under intense pressure from fearful members of his own party to negotiate a deal and de-escalate tension. Eventually Haughey backed down from the confrontation, for electoral reasons connected to the imminent presidential election.[citation needed] It was Haughey's first alienation of a significant voting block, and probably damaged him electorally in later years as many farmers remembered the events, known in folk memory as the 'Farmers Strike'.

1966 presidential campaign

Haughey played a controversial role in the 1966 Irish presidential election. He had been appointed the Fianna Fáil campaign manager, to run President de Valera's re-election campaign. His interventions proved highly controversial. Fine Gael chose a young Teachta Dála and barrister, Tom O'Higgins (nephew of Kevin O'Higgins) to run against de Valera. Aware that de Valera's age (84) and almost total blindness might compare unfavourably to O'Higgins, whose campaigns drew comparisons with the equally youthful late United States president of Irish descent, John F. Kennedy, Haughey launched what was seen as a political stroke. He insisted that it was beneath the presidency to actively campaign, meaning that de Valera would have a low profile. Therefore in the interests of fairness the media was recommended to also give O'Higgins a low profile, ignoring his speeches and publicity campaign. However the print media, both nationally and locally ignored Haughey's suggestion. But the state-run Telifís Éireann,[21] facing criticism from Lemass' government for being too radical in other areas, agreed and largely ignored the O'Higgins campaign.

In reality de Valera got a high media profile from a different source, the Fiftieth Anniversary commemoration of the Easter Rising, of which he was the most senior survivor. While O'Higgins's campaign was ignored by RTÉ, de Valera appeared in RTÉ coverage of the Rising events regularly. To add further to de Valera's campaign, Haughey as Agriculture Minister arranged[citation needed] for milk price increases to be given to farmers on the eve of polling, as a way of reducing farmer disquiet, when the farmers had effectively become an opposition movement to the government.

These tactics should have ensured an easy de Valera victory. Instead O'Higgins came to within less than one percent of winning the vote. The President was re-elected by a narrow margin of ten thousand votes out of a total of nearly one million. De Valera personally developed a highly negative view of Haughey,[citation needed] whom he came to distrust. In 1970 de Valera told Desmond O'Malley (now a rival of Haughey) that Haughey would "destroy" Fianna Fáil.[citation needed] De Valera's minister for Foreign Affairs and lifelong political confidant Frank Aiken also dismissed Haughey's political motives as being entirely selfish, and being motivated to hold power for its own sake and not duty.

In 1966 the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass retired. Haughey declared his candidature to succeed Lemass in the consequent leadership election. George Colley and Neil Blaney did likewise. With three strong candidates with strong and divisive views on the future of the party, the party elders sought to find a compromise candidate. Lemass himself, encouraged his Minister for Finance, Jack Lynch, to contest the party leadership. Lemass also encouraged Colley, Haughey and Blaney to withdraw in favour of Lynch, realising that they would not win the contest. However, Colley refused the Taoiseach's request and insisted on remaining in the race, but he was defeated by Lynch. Upon Lynch's election as Taoiseach, Haughey was appointed Minister for Finance by Lynch in a Cabinet reshuffle, which indicated that Haughey's withdrawal was a gain at the expense of Colley. Again Haughey showed a brilliant and radical streak. The inexpensive and socially inclusive initiatives caught the public imagination including popular decisions to introduce free travel on public transport for pensioners, subsidise electricity for pensioners, the granting of special tax concessions for the disabled and tax exemptions for artists. This increased Haughey's populist appeal, and his support from certain elements in the media and artistic community.

Arms Crisis

The late 1960s saw the old tensions boil over into an eruption of violence in Northern Ireland. Haughey was generally seen as coming from the pragmatist wing of the party, and was not believed to have strong opinions on the matter, despite having family links with Derry. Indeed many presumed that he had a strong antipathy to physical force Irish republicanism; during his period as Minister for Justice he had followed a tough anti-IRA line, including using internment without trial against the IRA. The hawks in the cabinet were seen as Kevin Boland and Neil Blaney, both sons of founding fathers in the party with strong Old IRA pasts. Blaney was also a TD for Donegal; a staunchly Republican area which bordered Derry. They were opposed by those described as the "doves" of the cabinet; Tánaiste Erskine Childers, George Colley and Patrick Hillery. A fund of £100,000 was set up to give to the Nationalist people in the form of aid. Haughey as Finance Minister would have a central role in the management of this fund.

There was general surprise when, in an incident known as the Arms Crisis, Haughey, along with Blaney, was sacked from Lynch's cabinet amid allegations of the use of the funds to import arms for use by the IRA. Opposition leader Liam Cosgrave was informed by the Garda that a plot to import arms existed and included government members. Cosgrave told Lynch he knew of the plot and would announce it in the Dáil next day if he didn't act. Lynch requested Haughey and Blaney submit their resignations to the President. Both men refused, saying they did nothing illegal. Lynch then asked the President to terminate their appointments as members of the government. Boland resigned in sympathy, while the alcoholic[citation needed] Micheál Ó Móráin was dismissed one day earlier in a preemptive strike to ensure a subservient Minister for Justice was in place when the crisis broke. Lynch chose government chief whip Desmond O'Malley for the role. Haughey and Blaney were subsequently tried in court along with an army Officer, Captain James Kelly, and Albert Luykx, a former Flemish National Socialist and businessman, who allegedly used his contacts to buy the arms.[citation needed] After trial all the accused were acquitted but many refused to recognise the verdict of the courts. Although cleared of wrong-doing, it looked as if Haughey's political career was finished. Blaney and Boland left Fianna Fáil but Haughey remained. He knew that he would never achieve the top job of Taoiseach if he left, and so he remained a backbencher and worked from within the party to achieve his goals. He spent his years on the backbenches - the wilderness years - building support within the grassroots of the party, during this time he remained loyal to the party and served the leader but after the debacle of the "arms crises" neither man trusted the other.

Political Return

In 1975 Fianna Fáil was in opposition and Haughey had achieved enough grassroots support to warrant a recall to Jack Lynch's opposition Bench. At the time Lynch was harshly criticised[citation needed] in the media for this. Haughey was appointed Spokesman on Health & Social Welfare, a fairly minor portfolio at the time, but Haughey used the same imagination and skill he displayed in other positions to formulate innovative and far reaching policies. Two years later in 1977 Fianna Fáil returned to power with a massive parliamentary majority in Dáil Éireann, having had a very populist campaign (spearhead by Colley and O'Malley) to abolish rates, vehicle tax and other extraordinary concessions, which were short-lived. Haughey returned to the Cabinet after an absence of seven years as Minister for Health & Social Welfare.

In this position he continued the progressive policies he had shown earlier by, among others, beginning the first government anti-smoking campaigns and legalising contraception, previously banned. Following the finding by the Supreme Court in McGee v The Attorney General that there was a constitutional right to use contraceptives, he introduced The Family Planning Bill which proved to be highly controversial. The bill allowed a pharmacist to sell contraceptives on presentation of a medical prescription. Haughey called this bill "an Irish solution to an Irish problem". It is often stated that the recipient of the prescription had to be married, but the legislation did not include this requirement.

It was also during this period that Lynch began to lose his grip on the party, the economy faltered in the aftermath of energy crises[citation needed] and the fallout from the giveaway concessions that had re-elected the government under Lynch, led to a succession race to succeed Lynch. As well as this a group of backbenchers began to lobby in support of Haughey. This group, known as the "gang of five," consisted of Jackie Fahey, Tom McEllistrim, Seán Doherty, Mark Killilea, Jnr and Albert Reynolds. Haughey was also helped by the TD Síle de Valera. The granddaughter of Éamon de Valera, she was highly critical of Jack Lynch's policy regards the North. In a speech at the Liam Lynch commemoration at Fermoy on the 9th of September, de Valera made a series of thinly veiled attacks on Lynch.[22] Although Lynch quickly tried to impose party discipline, attempting to discipline her for opposing party policy at a parliamentary party meeting held at the 28th, de Valera correctly pointed out that she had not opposed the party policy regarding the North which called for the declaration of the British intent to withdraw from the north.[22] Lynch left for a trip to the United States on the 7th of November. On the same day the government lost two by-elections to Fine Gael in Cork City [23] and in Cork North East.[24] During the trip Lynch claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that a five-kilometer air corridor between the border was agreed upon during the meeting with Thatcher to enhance security co-operation [25][26] This was something highly unsavoury to many in Fianna Fáil. When Lynch returned he was questioned on this by a Clare backbencher Dr Bill Loughnane along with Tom McEllistrim at a parliamentary party meeting.[27] Lynch stated that the British did not have permission to overfly the border. Afterwards Loughnane went public with the details of the meeting and accused Lynch of deliberately misleading the party. An attempt to remove the whip from Loughnane failed. At this stage Lynch's position had become untenable, with supporters of Haughey and George Colley caucusing opinion within the party.

In December 1979 Lynch announced his resignation as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil. The leadership contest that resulted was a two-horse race between Haughey and the Tánaiste, George Colley. Colley had the support of the entire Cabinet, with the exception of Michael O'Kennedy, and felt that this popularity would be reflected within the parliamentary party as a whole.

Haughey on the other hand was distrusted by a number of his Cabinet colleagues but was much more respected by new backbenchers who were worried about the safety of their Dáil seats. When the vote was taken Haughey emerged as the victor by a margin of 44 votes to 38, a very clear division within the party. In a conciliatory gesture, Colley was re-appointed as Tánaiste and had a veto over who Haughey would appoint as Ministers for Justice and Defence respectively. This was due to his distrust of Haughey on security issues (i.e. Arms Crisis). However, he was removed from the important position of Minister for Finance.

Nonetheless, on 11 December 1979, Charles Haughey was elected Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil, almost a decade after the Arms Crisis nearly destroyed his political career. In 2010, a founder of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising firm, said that Haughey had asked for a ‘a new image’ similar to the one provided for Margaret Thatcher for the 1979 general election.[28]

Taoiseach 1979–1981

When Haughey came to power, the country was sinking into a deep economic crisis, following the 1979 energy crisis. Haughey effectively acted as his own Minister for Finance, ignoring the views of his minister. One of his first functions as Taoiseach was a speech to the nation in which he outlined the bleak economic picture:

I wish to talk to you this evening about the state of the nation's affairs and the picture I have to paint is not, unfortunately, a very cheerful one. The figures which are just now becoming available to us show one thing very clearly. As a community we are living away beyond our means. I don't mean that everyone in the community is living too well, clearly many are not and have barely enough to get by, but taking us all together we have been living at a rate which is simply not justified by the amount of goods and services we are producing. To make up the difference we have been borrowing enormous amounts of money, borrowing at a rate which just cannot continue. A few simple figures will make this very clear...we will just have to reorganise government spending so that we can only undertake those things we can afford.

—Charles Haughey, 9 January 1980

While Haughey had identified the problem with the economy he did the exact opposite of what he said he would do. He increased public spending, which soon became out of control, and led to increases in borrowing and taxation at an unacceptable level. By 1981 Haughey was still reasonably popular and decided to call a general election. However, the timing of the election was thwarted twice by external events, in particular the hunger strikes of IRA volunteers for political status. The Anti H-Block Committee announced that they would field abstentionist candidates which many predicted correctly would take Republican votes away from Fianna Fáil. The Stardust Disaster, a fire destroyed a night club in Haughey's constituency and claimed the lives of 48 young people caused Haughey to delay the Ard Fheis and the election. The poll was eventually held in June, much later than Haughey wanted. In the hope of winning an overall Dáil majority Haughey's campaign took a populist line with regard to taxation, spending and Northern Ireland. The campaign was enhanced and hyped up by a live debate on RTÉ between Haughey and the Fine Gael leader, Garret FitzGerald, over the major issues. On the day of the vote Fianna Fáil won 45.5%. Failing to secure a majority in the 166-seat Dáil a Fine GaelLabour Party coalition came to power under FitzGerald and Haughey went into opposition.

Within days of his becoming Taoiseach, Allied Irish Banks forgave Haughey £400,000 of a £1,000,000 debt. No reason was given for this. The Economist obituary on Haughey (24 June 2006) asserted that he had warned the bank "I can be a very troublesome adversary".

Opposition 1981–1982

FitzGerald's government lasted until January 1982 when it collapsed due to a controversial budget which proposed the application of Value Added Tax to children's shoes, previously exempt. FitzGerald, no longer having a majority in the Dáil, went to Áras an Uachtaráin to advise President Hillery to dissolve the Dáil and call a general election. However, the night the government collapsed the Fianna Fáil Front Bench issued a statement encouraging the President not to grant the dissolution and to allow Fianna Fáil to form a government. Phone calls were also made to the President by Brian Lenihan.[29] Haughey, on attempting to contact his former colleague, the President and on failing to be put through to the President was reported to have threatened the President's aide de camp by telling him that he would be Taoiseach one day and when that happened, I intend to roast your fucking arse if you don't put me through immediately.[30]

A biography of Hillery blames Haughey for the sex scandal rumours which almost destroyed the Presidency of Hillery in 1979.[31]

Taoiseach 1982

After the February 1982 election, when Haughey failed to win an overall majority again, questions were raised about his leadership. Some of Haughey's critics in the party suggested that an alternative candidate should stand as the party's nominee for Taoiseach. Desmond O'Malley emerged as the likely alternative candidate and was ready to challenge Haughey for the leadership. However, on the day of the vote O'Malley withdrew and Haughey went forward as the nominee. He engineered confidence and supply agreements with the Independent Socialist TD, Tony Gregory (in return for £100 million of investment in the Dublin North Inner City; a deal dubbed the Gregory Deal), the Independent Fianna Fáil TD Neil Blaney and three Workers' Party TDs, which saw him return as Taoiseach for a second time.

Haughey's second term was dominated by even more economic mismanagement, based on Haughey's policy of using government policy and money, in an effort to induce a sufficiently large share of the electorate to vote him his elusive 'overall majority' in the national assembly. With Haughey and his supporters taking a dangerously populist line in every area of policy, and refusing to address serious shortcomings in the performance of the state, a growing minority in his own party were becoming increasingly concerned. The issue of his leadership cropped up again when in October the backbench TD, Charlie McCreevy, put down a motion of no-confidence in Haughey. Desmond O'Malley disagreed with the timing but supported the hasty motion of no confidence all the same. O'Malley resigned from the Cabinet prior to the vote as he was going to vote against Haughey. A campaign now started that was extremely vicious on the side of Haughey's supporters, with threats made to the careers of those who dissented from the leadership. After a marathon 15 hour party meeting, Haughey, who insisted on a roll-call as opposed to a secret ballot, and won the open ballot by 58 votes to 22. Not long after this, Haughey's government collapsed when the Workers' Party TD's and Tony Gregory withdrew their support for the government over a Fianna Fáil policy document called "The Way Forward," which would lead to massive spending cuts. Fianna Fáil lost the November 1982 election and FitzGerald once again returned as Taoiseach at the head of a Fine Gael/Labour coalition with a comfortable Dáil majority. Haughey found himself back in opposition.

During this tenure of Haughey, the GUBU Incidents, involving the Attorney General to his Government, occurred in Dublin. At a press-conference on the affair, Haughey was paraphrased as having described the affair as "grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented", from which journalist and former politician Conor Cruise O'Brien coined the term GUBU.

Opposition 1982–1987

Haughey's leadership came under scrutiny for a third time when a report linked Haughey with the phone tapping of political journalists. In spite of huge pressure Haughey refused to resign and survived yet another vote of no-confidence in early 1983, albeit with a smaller majority. (Haughey's success was partly due to the death of the Fianna Fáil TD, Clement Coughlan, a supporter of O'Malley. Haughey's supporters managed to have the meeting moved to the following week after the funeral, which gave him more time to manoeuver). Having failed three times to oust Haughey, most of his critics gave up and returned to normal politics.

In May 1984 the New-Ireland Forum Report was published. Haughey was involved in the drafting of this at the time he was in office and had agreed to potential scenarios for improving the political situation of Northern Ireland. However on publication, Haughey rejected it and said the only possible solution was a United Ireland. This statement was criticised by the other leaders who forged the New-Ireland Forum, John Hume, Garret FitzGerald and Dick Spring. Desmond O'Malley supported the Forum report and criticised Haughey's ambiguous position, accusing him of stifling debate. At a Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party meeting to discuss the report, the whip was removed from O'Malley, which meant he was no longer a Fianna Fáil TD. Ironically when Haughey returned to power he embraced the Anglo-Irish Agreement that had developed from the New-Ireland Forum Report.

In early 1985 a bill was introduced by the Fine Gael-Labour government to liberalise the sale of contraceptives in the country. Fianna Fáil in opposition opposed the bill. O'Malley supported it as a matter of principle rather than a political point to oppose for opposition's sake. On the day of the vote O'Malley spoke in the Dáil chamber stated:

But I do not believe that the interests of this State or our Constitution and of this Republic would be served by putting politics before conscience in regard to this .... I stand by the Republic and accordingly, I will not oppose this Bill. .[32]

He abstained rather than vote with the government. Despite this Haughey moved against O'Malley and in February 1985, O'Malley was charged with "conduct un-becoming".. At a Party Meeting, even though O'Malley did not have the Party whip, he was expelled from the Fianna Fáil organisation by 73 votes to 9 in roll-call vote. With George Colley dead, O'Malley expelled and other critics silenced, Haughey was finally in full control of Fianna Fáil.

O'Malley decided to form a new political party and 21 December 1985, Desmond O'Malley announced the formation of the Progressive Democrats. Several Fianna Fáil TDs joined including Mary Harney and Bobby Molloy.

In November 1985 the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed between Garret FitzGerald and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The agreement gave the Republic of Ireland a formal say in Northern Ireland and its affairs. As was the case with the New Ireland Forum Report, the Anglo-Irish Agreement was harshly criticised by Haughey, who said that he would re-negotiate it, if re-elected. FitzGerald called a general election for February 1987. The campaign was dominated by attacks on the government over severe cuts in the budget and the general mismanagement of the economy. When the results were counted Haughey had failed once again to win an overall majority for Fianna Fáil. When it came to electing a Taoiseach in the Dáil Haughey's position looked particularly volatile. When it came to a vote the Independent TD Tony Gregory abstained, seeing Haughey as the "lesser of two evils" (the reason for this was Gregory's personal Republican convictions and his opposition to the Anglo-Irish agreement). Haughey was elected Taoiseach on the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle.

Taoiseach 1987–1992

Haughey now headed a minority Fianna Fáil government. Fine Gael under leader Alan Dukes took the unprecedented move in the famous Tallaght strategy of supporting the government and voting for it when it came to introducing tough economic policies. The national debt had doubled under Fitzgerald so the government introduced budget cuts in all departments, the cuts were much more severe and effective than when FitzGerald was in power. The taxation system was transformed to encourage enterprise and employment. The actions that were taken by Haughey's government in this period certainly transformed the economy. One of the major schemes put forward, and one which would have enormous economic benefits for the country, was the establishment of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin.

In late April 1989 Haughey returned from a trip to Japan, to the news that the government was about to be defeated in a Dáil vote, which would result in Haughey having to call a general election. The government was indeed defeated and Haughey, buoyed up by opinion polls which indicated the possibility of winning an overall majority, called a general election for 15 June. However Fianna Fáil ended up losing four seats and the possibility of forming another minority government looked slim. For the first time in history a nominee for Taoiseach failed to achieve a majority when a vote was taken in the Dáil. Constitutionally Haughey was obliged to resign, however he refused to, for a short period. He eventually tendered his resignation to President Hillery and remained on as Taoiseach, albeit in an acting capacity. A full 27 days after the election had taken place a coalition government was formed between Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. It was the first time that Fianna Fáil had entered into a coalition, abandoning one of its "core values" in the overwhelming need to form a government.[7]

Haughey in 1990 had more difficulties. The first half of the year saw Haughey in a leading role as European statesman when Ireland held the presidency of the European Community, which rotates semi-annually between the member states of the European Union. The Presidential election was disappointing for Haughey with Brian Lenihan, the Tánaiste, who was nominated as the party's candidate, being defeated by Mary Robinson. During the campaign the controversy over the phone calls made to the Áras an Uachtaráin in 1982 urging the then President not to dissolve the Dáil resurfaced. Lenihan was accused of calling and attempting to influence the President, who as Head of State is above politics. It is suggested that Haughey was forced by O'Malley to sack Lenihan in order to save the government, and stay on as Taoiseach. This damaged Haughey's standing in the organisation.

Haughey's grip on political power began to slip in the autumn of 1991. A series of resignations by chairmen of semi-state companies and an open declaration by the Minister for Finance, Albert Reynolds, that he had every intention of standing for the party leadership if Haughey retired. Following a heated parliamentary party meeting, Seán Power, one of Reynolds's supporters put down a motion of no-confidence in Haughey. Reynolds and his supporters were sacked from the government by Haughey, who went on to win the no-confidence motion by 55 votes to 22.

Haughey's victory was short-lived, as a series of political errors would lead to his demise as Taoiseach. Controversy erupted over the attempted appointment of Jim McDaid as Minister for Defence, which saw him resign from the post before he had been officially installed, under pressure from O'Malley. Worse was to follow when Seán Doherty, the man who as Minister for Justice had taken the blame for the phone-tapping scandal of the early 1980s, went on RTÉ television, and after ten years of insisting that Haughey knew nothing of the tapping, claimed that Haughey had known and authorised it.[7] Haughey denied this, but the Progressive Democrats members of the government stated that they could no longer continue in government with Haughey as Taoiseach. Haughey told Desmond O'Malley, the Progressive Democrats leader, that he intended to retire shortly but wanted to choose his own time of departure. O'Malley agreed to this and the government continued.

On 30 January 1992, Haughey retired as leader of Fianna Fáil at a parliamentary party meeting. He remained as Taoiseach until 11 February when he was succeeded by the sacked Finance Minister, Albert Reynolds. In his final address to the Dáil he quoted Othello saying inter alia, "I have done the state some service, they know it, no more of that." Haughey then returned to the backbenches before retiring from politics at the 1992 general election. His son, Seán Haughey, was elected at that election in his father's old constituency. Sean Haughey was appointed as a Junior Minister in the Department of Education and Science in December 2006.

Retirement, tribunals and scandal

Despite his professed desire to fade from public attention, retirement was anything but smooth for the former Taoiseach. A series of political, financial and personal scandals tarnished his image and reputation in his later years. In the late 1990s the public were shocked to hear revelations about his extravagant private life — Haughey owned racehorses,[33] a large motor sailing yacht Celtic Mist, a private island and a Gandon designed mansion, but had long refused to answer any questions about how he financed this lifestyle on a government salary.[34] Haughey was severely ridiculed and criticised when he was found to have embezzled money that was a subvention to the Fianna Fáil Party; money that was from central Government's taxpayer's funds for the operation of a political party and spent large sums of these funds on Charvet shirts and expensive dinners in a top Dublin restaurant, while preaching belt-tightening and implementing budget cuts as a national policy.[35]

In May 1999, Terry Keane, gossip columnist and once wife of former Chief Justice, Ronan Keane, revealed on The Late Late Show that she and Haughey had conducted a 27-year extramarital affair.[36] In a move that she subsequently said she deeply regretted, Keane confirmed that the man she had been referring to for years in her newspaper column as "sweetie" was indeed Haughey. The revelation on the television programme shocked at least some of the audience, including Haughey's son, Seán, who was watching the show. Haughey's wife, Maureen was also said to have been deeply hurt by the circumstances of the revelation.

The McCracken Tribunal in 1997 first revealed the payments by businessmen to Haughey, and also revealed that he had held secret offshore bank accounts in the Ansbacher Bank in the Cayman Islands. Haughey faced criminal charges for obstructing the work of the McCracken tribunal.[37][38] His trial on these charges was postponed indefinitely after the judge in the case found that he would not be able to get a fair trial following prejudicial comments by the then PD leader and Tánaiste Mary Harney.[39]

The subsequent Moriarty Tribunal delved further into Haughey's financial dealings. In his main report[6] on Charles Haughey released on 19 December 2006, Mr. Justice Moriarty made the following findings:

  • Haughey was paid more than IR£8 million between 1979 and 1986 from various benefactors and businessmen, including £1.3 million from the Dunnes Stores supermarket tycoon Ben Dunne alone.[34] The tribunal described these payments as "unethical".[40]
  • In May 1989 one of Haughey's lifelong friends Brian Lenihan, a former government minister, underwent a liver transplant which was partly paid for through fundraising by Haughey. The Moriarty tribunal found that, of the £270,000 collected in donations for Brian Lenihan, no more than £70,000 ended up being spent on Lenihan's medical care. The tribunal identified one specific donation of £20,000 for Lenihan that was surreptitiously appropriated by Haughey,[41] who took steps to conceal this transaction.[42][43]
  • The tribunal found evidence of favours performed in return for money — Saudi businessman Mahmoud Fustok paid Haughey £50,000 to support applications for Irish citizenship.[40]
  • In other evidence of favours performed, the tribunal reported that Haughey arranged meetings between Ben Dunne and civil servant Seamus Pairceir of the Revenue Commissioners. These discussions resulted in an outstanding capital gains tax bill for Dunne being reduced by £22.8 million. Moriarty found that this was "not coincidental", and that it was a substantial benefit conferred on Dunne by Haughey's actions.[44]
  • Allied Irish Banks settled a million-pound overdraft with Haughey soon after he became Taoiseach in 1979; the tribunal found that the lenience shown by the bank in this case amounted to an indirect payment by the bank to Haughey.[40]

The tribunal rejected Haughey's claims of ignorance of his own financial affairs[35] and Haughey was accused by the tribunal of "devaluing democracy".[40]

Haughey eventually agreed a settlement with the revenue and paid a total of € 6.5 million in back taxes and penalties to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to these donations.[45] In August 2003 Haughey was forced to sell his large estate, Abbeville, in Kinsealy in north County Dublin for €45 million to settle legal fees he had incurred during the tribunals.[46] He continued to live at Abbeville and own the island of Inishvickillane off the coast of County Kerry until his death.

Death and funeral

Haughey's attendance before the tribunals had repeatedly been disrupted by illness.[47] He died from prostate cancer, which he had suffered from for a decade, on 13 June 2006, at his home.[48]

Haughey received a state funeral on 16 June 2006.[48] He was buried in St. Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton in County Dublin following mass at Donnycarney. The then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern delivered the graveside oration.[49]

The obsequy was screened live on RTÉ One and watched by a quarter of a million people.[citation needed] It was attended by President Mary McAleese, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, members of the Oireachtas, many from the world of politics, industry and business.[50] The chief celebrant was Haughey's brother, Father Eoghan Haughey.


Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald has said that he had the potential to be one of the best Taoisigh that the country ever had, had his preoccupation with wealth and power not clouded his judgement:[51]

Charles Haughey spent much energy fending off leadership challenges, chasing an elusive Dáil majority and dealing with GUBU-like events."
He comes with a flawed pedigree. ... His motives can ultimately only be judged by God, but we cannot ignore the fact that he differs from his predecessors in that these motives have been widely impugned, most notably by those in his own party who have observed him over many years . .

Another former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said[52]

He had an immense ability to get things done and he inspired great loyalty amongst many of his followers both inside and outside Fianna Fáil.

In recent times, these achievements have become clouded by the revelations that are the subject of inquiry by the Moriarty Tribunal. History will have to weigh up both the credit and the debit side more dispassionately than may be possible today, but I have no doubt its ultimate judgement on Mr Haughey will be a positive one.

Historian Diarmaid Ferriter said,[53]

He was a very promising minister in the '60s, but once he became leader all he was concerned with was staying leader. It was always about the cult of leadership. His sense of himself was much more important than any vision he had for the country. People say he discovered fiscal rectitude in '87, and people talk about his contribution to Anglo-Irish affairs, but really if you try and look for any consistency in his affairs after the late '70s you can't find it because it's just about him.

Historian John A Murphy said,[54]

His vision was one of personal vanity. I don't think history's assessment will be the one Bertie uttered over his grave.


The following governments were led by Haughey:

See also


  1. ^ "Mr. Charles Haughey". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  2. ^ "The death of Charles Haughey". The Irish Times. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Ex-Irish Taoiseach Haughey dies". BBC News. 2006-06-13. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f A young Turk full of overweening ambitionThe Irish Times obituary
  5. ^ "Fierce spending and tax cuts that began to transform Ireland from a banana republic into a “Celtic Tiger”." Charles HaugheyThe Economist obituary, 22 June 2006.
  6. ^ a b "Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters Part I" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b c "Charles Haughey (1925-2006)". RTÉ News. 
  8. ^ The other six children were Pádraig, Seán, Eoghan, Bridget, Maureen and Eithne.
  9. ^ a b c Carl O'Brien, "Green roots and new shoots - The Family", A supplement with The Irish Times, 14 June 2006.
  10. ^ FitzGerald's later wife, Joan O'Farrell, had at one stage dated Haughey.
  11. ^ Haughey served with the North Dublin Battalion, becoming commanding officer of the Donnycarney Platoon F.C.Á.
  12. ^ Ian S. Wood, Ireland During the Second World War, 2003, p. 100 (ISBN 1-84067-418-0)
  13. ^ Sam Smyth, "Four Haughey children will inherit a fortune – Є30m (and Blasket island) to be shared", Irish Independent, 17 June 2006.
  14. ^ The Irish Times, 14 June 2006.
  15. ^ "Charles Haughey". Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  16. ^ Lemass was Haughey's father-in-law as well as Taoiseach. Traynor had submitted a list of four names[citation needed]. The first, Sean Flanagan, had declined, while Lemass had rejected the other three.
  17. ^ T. Ryle Dwyer, Short Fellow: A Biography of Charles J. Haughey (Marino, 1995) p.31.
  18. ^ Traynor, a minister from the de Valera's era, was elderly and in poor health, and only nominally running the department.
  19. ^ 'Irish solutions for Irish problems'The Irish Times obituary.
  20. ^ Minister for Agriculture, Paddy Smith, had resigned over a policy dispute.
  21. ^ later called RTÉ
  22. ^ a b Down Down Deeper and Down - Ireland in the 70's and 80's - Eamon Sweeney - pg 182
  23. ^ "21st Dail By Elections - Cork City First Preference Votes". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  24. ^ "21st Dail By Elections - Cork North East First Preference Votes". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  25. ^ Ireland in the 20th Century - Tim Pat Coogan
  26. ^ Down Down Deeper and Down - Ireland in the 70's and 80's - Eamon Sweeney - pg 186
  27. ^ Down Down Deeper and Down - Ireland in the 70's and 80's - Eamon Sweeney - pg 186 -187
  28. ^ Haughey ‘wanted a new image’[dead link]
  29. ^ This attempted contact with the President proved a major embarrassment to Lenihan subsequently in 1990.
  30. ^ Finlay, Fergus Snakes and Ladders pub:New Island Books 1998. Haughey told the Dáil that he never insulted an army officer and he never would. Lenihan in his subsequent account noted that no-one ever claimed Haughey had insulted an army officer but that he had threatened him, a subtle but important difference, and that Haughey never denied threatening the army officer, merely denied ever insulting an army officer.
  31. ^ Great pubs. "Haughey blamed for sex smear against Hillery". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  32. ^ "Dáil Éireann - Volume 356 - 20 February 1985". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  33. ^ Haughey's horse Flashing Steel won the Irish Grand National in 1995.
  34. ^ a b Ex-Irish PM Haughey 'took bribes'BBC News article, 19 December 2006.
  35. ^ a b "Mr Haughey was lambasted for having spent huge sums on tailored shirts and expensive restaurant meals while simultaneously urging Irish people to tighten their belts amid economic gloom."Former taoiseach Haughey took millions for favours, report findsThe Guardian newspaper article, 19 December 2006.
  36. ^ A Very Public Affair Irish Times article on speculation about Charles Haughey's private life before Terry Keane revealed all.
  37. ^ Former PM in courtBBC News article, 6 October 1998.
  38. ^ Haughey to stand trial for obstructing McCracken Tribunal — RTÉ News article, 9 July 1999.
  39. ^ High Court upholds ruling on Haughey trial — RTÉ News report, 3 November 2000.
  40. ^ a b c d Haughey payments 'devalued' democracyThe Irish Times newspaper article, 19 December 2006.
  41. ^ Betrayal of a friend and of usThe Times (UK)
  42. ^ Haughey severely criticised by Moriarty — RTÉ News article, 19 December 2006.
  43. ^ Haughey 'misused Lenihan funds'The Irish Times newspaper article, 19 December 2006.
  44. ^ Moriarty Tribunal report, chapter 16: Dunnes Settlement.
  45. ^ Haughey to pay Revenue €5m in taxRTÉ News report, 18 March 2003.
  46. ^ Haugheys raise €45m from sale of Kinsealy home, landThe Irish Times newspaper article, 14 August 2003.
  47. ^ "Moriarty refuses to accept Haughey cannot continue to give evidence". RTÉ News. 16 October 2000. 
  48. ^ a b "Haughey to get State funeral on Friday". RTÉ News. 13 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-12. 
  49. ^ "Charles Haughey laid to rest in Dublin". RTÉ News. 16 June 2006. 
  50. ^ "Haughey laid to rest after sombre State funeral". The Irish Times. 16 June 2006. 
  51. ^ "A lifelong obsession with the pursuit of political power". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  52. ^ ,Reaction to ex-Taoiseach's death
  53. ^ "'Controversial' Taoiseach". 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  54. ^ Patrick Freyne (2008-05-04). "Arise Mr Cowen, Taoiseach No 12". Retrieved 2010-12-02. 


Preceded by
Harry Colley
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dublin North East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dublin Artane
Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála for Dublin North Central
Succeeded by
Seán Haughey
Political offices
New title Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Justice
Succeeded by
Brian Lenihan
Preceded by
Oscar Traynor
Minister for Justice
Preceded by
Paddy Smith
Minister for Agriculture
Succeeded by
Neil Blaney
as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries
Preceded by
Jack Lynch
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by
George Colley
Preceded by
Brendan Corish
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
Michael Woods
Minister for Social Welfare
Preceded by
Jack Lynch
Succeeded by
Garret FitzGerald
Preceded by
Garret FitzGerald
Leader of the Opposition
March–December 1982
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Alan Dukes
Succeeded by
Albert Reynolds
Preceded by
Paddy O'Toole
Minister for the Gaeltacht
Succeeded by
John Wilson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jack Lynch
Leader of Fianna Fáil
Succeeded by
Albert Reynolds

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  • Haughey — may refer to:People with the surname Haughey: * Charles Haughey * Chris Haughey * Edward Haughey, Baron Ballyedmond * Matthew Haughey * Maureen Haughey * Seán HaugheyOther: * Haughey (TV series), a series broadcast by RTÉ in 2005 about Charles… …   Wikipedia

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