IRELAND-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > IRELAND-OBITS > 2006-06 > 1150284841
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: Fw:Re: HAUGHEY: Charles James Haughey--d.13/6/2006>IRISH
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2006 12:34:01 +0100
The Scotsman online 14/6/2006
Former taoiseach of Ireland
Born: 16 September, 1925, in County Mayo.
Died: 13 June, 2006, in Dublin, aged 80
CHARLES Haughey served four terms as Ireland's taoiseach (prime minister) in
a career overshadowed by ethical questions. Adored and despised, he oversaw
four scandal-marred governments as leader of Ireland's most popular party,
Fianna Fail. The first two, from 1979 to 1982, nearly bankrupted the
country. The second pair, from 1987 to 1992, slashed spending and laid the
foundation for the booming Celtic Tiger economy.
He was "the great survivor," bouncing back after being put on trial for
allegedly running guns to Northern Ireland, and again after a series of
scandals in 1982 which included a murder suspect being found at the home of
Haughey's attorney general.
Garret FitzGerald, the leader of the opposition Fine Gael party, in 1979
accused Haughey of "an overweening ambition ... a wish to dominate, even to
own, the state".
Yesterday, however, judgements had mellowed slightly. "He had an immense
ability to get things done and he inspired great loyalty amongst many of his
followers both inside and outside Fianna Fail," said Ireland's current
taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who as Fianna Fail's treasurer signed blank party
checks for Haughey's personal spending.
The current Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said Haughey "bore his
humiliations with dignity and, no doubt, personal pain."
Though just 5ft7in (170cm) with a hawkish nose and swept-back mane of hair,
Haughey towered over his followers, who saw "The Boss" as a loveable rogue,
courageous and visionary. Enemies detested him and deemed him the source of
every ill in Irish politics.
"He radiated an aura associated in the public mind with a Renaissance
potentate - with his immense wealth, his retinue of loyal retainers, his
Florentine penchant for faction fighting, his patronage of the arts, his
distinctive personality, at once crafty and conspiratorial, resilient and
resourceful, imaginative yet insecure," the historian JJ Lee wrote in 1989.
Corruption tribunals established that Haughey secretly solicited more than
eight million Irish pounds from businessmen. Haughey insisted he gave no
favours in return. That financed Haughey's 280-acre (110-hectare) estate
with pool and thoroughbred horses, a private island and yacht, a helicopter
business run by a son, and a jet-setting second life with his mistress - who
flaunted her liaison with "Sweetie" in her newspaper column.
Born in 1925, in rural County Mayo, Haughey received degrees in accountancy
and law, and co-founded an accounting firm. In 1951, he married the daughter
of Sean Lemass, who became taoiseach in 1959 and made his son-in-law a
Cabinet minister two years later.
After Lemass resigned in 1966, Haughey became finance minister in Jack
Lynch's government, and introduced tax-free status for resident artists and
writers. In 1969, when conflict ignited between Protestants and the Catholic
minority in Northern Ireland, Haughey was accused of co-ordinating arms
purchases for shipment to the Provisional IRA, and Lynch fired him.
In two trials, Haughey and his alleged co-conspirators were acquitted, but
his political career was widely presumed to be over. Instead, he regained a
Cabinet post when Lynch led Fianna Fail to a landslide victory in 1977.
Haughey backed a free-spending policy that plunged Ireland into debt, then
won the party leadership after a fiscal crisis led Lynch to resign in
December 1979. Haughey went on television as taoiseach to tell the people to
tighten their belts: "As a community," he intoned in his gravelly yet regal
voice, "we are living way beyond our means."
Especially the taoiseach.
Later investigations revealed he entered office more than 1.1 million Irish
pounds in debt. Within weeks of becoming taoiseach, his bank wrote off much
of this after receiving an unidentified transfer of offshore funds.
Haughey seized control of Fianna Fail's fundraising. With no laws regulating
party finances or political donations, he collected money directly through
cheques made out to "cash" or friendly third parties, investigators later
Haughey showed his political skill in 1979 in making contraception available
to married couples, with a doctor's prescription, despite the opposition of
the Catholic hierarchy. "An Irish solution to an Irish problem," he said,
coining an oft-repeated phrase.
He didn't last long as taoiseach, because of a wave of scandals in 1982: a
Haughey aide accused of stuffing ballot boxes was acquitted on a
technicality, a murder suspect was found hiding in the attorney general's
home, and two journalists' telephones were tapped.
Haughey described the discovery of the murder suspect as "grotesque",
"unbelievable", "bizarre" and "unprecedented" - instantly immortalised in
Irish political discourse as "GUBU".
Returning to power again in 1987, Haughey scoffed at his critics: "I've been
around so long now, they know I don't eat babies."
Haughey was forced to resign in 1992 by new evidence that he had authorised
the 1982 phone-tapping.
In 1997, a judicial investigation identified Haughey as a big beneficiary of
donations from Dunnes Stores, Ireland's dominant supermarket chain. Public
sentiment turned against him, particularly after allegations he spent 30,000
Irish pounds that had been earmarked for cancer treatment for his longtime
deputy, Brian Lenihan.
Facing a possible criminal charge of obstructing justice, Haughey agreed in
April 2000 to pay 1 million Irish pounds in back taxes on the Dunnes
donations. But by then a string of other questionable donors had surfaced.
In 2003, he paid 5 million pounds more in final settlement.
Charles Haughey is survived by his wife, their daughter and three sons.
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