The stories I heard about Charlie Haughey from those that knew him In
the FCA were of a Jack the Lad who drove a Jaguar when they were lucky if they
had secondhand pushbikes and who
was a graduate and Chartered Accounant when few of them had been past primary school. Like them Charlie came from families of modest means. His father, an IRA veteran and Regular Army
Officer, had to retire on a modest pension after contracting Multiple Scelerosis .Free Secondary and Tertiary Education were unknown then except for those that won Scholarship.Pensions for
Public Servants remained static, taking no account of inflation -until Charlie became Minister for Finance. I had no reason to doubt the stories I heard from those that knew him, and still believe
later stories which seemed in character.
But there are stories circulating by liars and chancers – for instance that he bought his Kinsealy Mansion, when, as Minister of Finance he was forewarned of Jim Callaghan’s devaluation of the
pound, That comes from the School of History that maintains that the Cork Militia bate the Turks at Waterloo.
In fact years before Labour came to power under Harold Wilson, Haughey had a substantial mansion and grounds near Howth Junction with a gatehouse manned by Gardaí when he was Minister of Justice.When I left Dublin in November 1964, many hundreds of acres north of the railway from Sutton to Amiens Street, now covered with thousands of houses, now celebrated in Roddy Doyle’s works, were fields. I don’t think Charlie was Don Juan enough to account for the huge population increase. He sold his mansion at a huge profit and bought Kinsealy with the profits.
When Charlie bought the first mansion he invited his old FCA comrades to
drill or exercise in his broad acres and presented them with grass-cutting
implements. Eamonn or Dessie Francis told him what to do with the implements
and led their Platoon away
Sources I trust say that the Financial Services Centre in Dublin originated in the brain of Dermot Desmond and he contacted the then Taoiseach John Bruton who pooh-poohed it. He then approached Dick Spring who dismissed it as a place for yuppies. The Socialist Spring became a Director of some companies there. It was Charlie Haughey who recognised the idea and backed it. It now employs over 30,000 in smart modern offices in what had been one of the poorest areas in Dublin.
Haughey also backed the building of Knock Airport, a boon for the West
and Northwest of Ireland and home to a major aeronautical business.
As Finance Minister Haughey had the brilliant idea of not taxing writers. Most writers scrape a living so there is no loss to the State there.But the sale of books brings money into the country, and
successful writers, thankful for their good fortune might praise the country and its appreciation of their worth.
For nearly 50 years the State subsidised the Abbey Theatre. When Charlie became Finance Minister he gave the impecunious Gate Theatre, which had survived producing brilliant work for nearly 40 years, a regular subsidy which kept its head above water.
I’m indebted for this information
to a biography (THE BOYS) of Micheal MacLiammoir (Alfred Wilmore) and his
lover, Hilton Edwards, two Londoners who served Drama and Ireland heroically
for many decades. I got the book, at a snip in a Charity
shop the same day as I bought POINT TO POINT NAVIGATION, the second part of Gore Vidal’s Memoirs. In the combined memoirs covering 70 years. I think Vidal only mentioned Ireland once, when he credited Haughey with making Ireland rich.
When the Presidency of the European Union fell to Ireland and Charles Haughey was Taoisech the Berlin Wall had fallen, France under Mitterand and Britain under Thatcher were opposed to the unification of Germany. The heads of Government of the Union met in Dublin Castle and Haughey was instrumental in facilitating the Germans, who showed their appreciation when Albert Reynolds had succeeded Haughey, when they directed many billions of EU funds to Ireland.
Charles Haughey, behind the scenes supported the Hume-Adams dialogue which brought about the end of a nearly 30 year war. If that didn’t earn Charlie a place among the Angels, his action, described by Stephen Collins in the Irish Times, places him among Laocra Gaeil. When Stephen asked Charlie if he was going to resign, Charlie grabbed him by the throat and told him to F*** Off. Bravo Charlie, Bravo!