An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Tuesday, July 05, 2005  


The series has now finished; I have to catch up on a few episodes. I wasn't fanatical about watching them all because a lot of the same old people said the same old things. Principally, he was a great legislator and the end was all so tragic. Others point out that even though he took the money he didn't actually do anything in return so somehow that's ok. If rich people wanted to support him financially, so what? Didn't he do great things while in power so it was worth it.

What this analysis fails to acknowledge is that the rich people wouldn't have supported him unless he was in power. Therefore he had to get power and retain it so that his lifestyle would be supported. This meant that he was prepared to do anything regardless of the cost to his country or his colleagues. That 'anything' did not mean getting the Dunne's tax bill reduced, instead it meant campaigning against the Anglo-Irish agreement. It meant almost bankrupting the country in the early 1980's and then screwing poor people to save us from the IMF in the 87-89 period. His political actions were never based on whether they were right or wrong in themselves but on how they might get him into power.

He gets credit for laying the foundations of the Peace Process by letting Mansergh start talks in the early 90's. In fact he warned Mansergh that if his talks were discovered he would disown him completely and say he had acted without government authority. He took no personal or political risk in the matter himself. He called the 1989 election when a bill proposed by the opposition was passed which would have given a measley 400k to the Haemophiliacs who had been infected with Aids as a result of appalling mismanagement by the state run blood bank. Up until the point he took office, we could say that regardless of which party was in power, the cabinet posts were always held by men of relatively humble means and there was no association between power and money. Haughey ended that.

As far those who were close to him and now claim to be astonished by all the revelations, I say bullshit. I was 10 when he became Taoiseach and I remember the absolute horror by the opposition, the meeja and a lot of his own party. He was a bully, a phone tapper and he saw the state's money as his own. How is Bertie Ahern in power when he co-signed the cheques that paid for dinner with Ms Keane? It is astounding. He is a liar and a cheat and a fraud. His legacy is a political system where standards are so low no one is ever expected to resign. Unless there are in Fine Gael. It will be 20 years before the country recovers from his malign influence.

posted by Sarah | 22:06 9 comments
eh, what series? You have to go slow for us furriners. ;)

Presumably it was a TV series about CJH. Sounds great -- I hope someone picks it up on DVD for when I get back.
In fact he warned Mansergh that if his talks were discovered he would disown him completely and say he had acted without government authority.

The same principle perhaps governing Martin's chat with the Provos in 1997, to hold off their ceasefire announcement till after the election? Except this time it was Bertie with the deniability.
The only reason you're having trouble understanding why Charlie wanted money so badly is that you seem to be loaded with the stuff yourself Sarah darling. We haven't forgotten your crack at the time of the Pope's funeral about Mary McAleese betraying her "working class roots" down here in the ghetto just yet.

The chief thing Haughey's dectractors had against him was that he was not of their caste. The rest is smoke and mirrors. You think no-one in the Dáil is on the take now, that it all started and ended with CJH? Come off it.
But I have no trouble at all. He wanted to live a certain lifestyle. Contrary to popular opinion he wasn't brilliant at business so he just spent the money and then bullied the banks (who proved themselves extraordinarily weak), nicked the state's money (withe Bertie's assistance) and then begged of millionaires. While the association of power and wealth began with him, I did not argue that it ended with him, instead I humbly submit that the Lawlors and Burkes were able to operate in an environment where people had been taught not to ask questions and rich men handing money to politicians became almost normal.
Btw, unfortunately I am not rich. I will tell the story of the havoc wreaked upon our family by an alcoholic grandfather and the Land Commission another day. However, we did retain some of the silver and etiquette so while we have little money we hold our knives properly and would never remove a hat before the bride's mother at a wedding. Camille's moral outrage can focus on that one.
I haven't seen the series but from what you are saying it seems to me that RTE/the meeja have once more become apologists for the corruption and incompetence in Irish polictical life. I never fails to amaze how Irish jounalists will run away from any remotely controversial story....whether it the bribing of politicians, the brutality of the Garda or the abuse of children by religious institutions.
For the benefit of Justin, Conor and other furrin readers Steve Carson, producer of Prime Time and his partner/possible wife/mother of his 4 children/ Miriam O'Callaghan, presenter of Prime Time, have their own production company which would you believe got the job from RTE to do the 'definitive' 4 part series on CJH. It covered his early life, arms trial, comeback, time as Taoiseach, fall from power and tribunal life. It interviewed all the usual suspects and in the interests of 'balance' had commentary from Eimear and Sean (two of his children: Eimear made the bizarre comment that the state had let Haughey down?) PJ Mara etc. It did cover the attack on Jim Gibbons, the phone tapping etc but the overall tone was of Charlie, the flawed hero. A great man who did some great things but just had this one chink in the armour and wasn't it terrible. My granny may always have been grateful for the free bus pass, but I think it takes more than the odd gesture to make up for the damage he did.
It is funny tho' how the revisionists (most notably my old friend Waters) are not the only ones trying to redeem his reputation. (Waters described him on another programme as a great man brought down by pygmies!) The interpretation of Laoch (is the translation workers hero?) is one I've seen before - Charlie was kind to the common man - it was only the establishment he pissed off. Ridiculous. It is the common man who bore the brunt of his disastrous policies. If anyone would like the brilliant Fintan O'Toole article from the IT archives on the Haughey's fondue set covered in a 1960's magazine, just let me know. O'Toole's point was that in the 1960's when loads of houses didn't have an indoor toilet, it took the mere possession of a fondue set to indicate a rise in society. As the economic situation improved Charlie had to spend more and more to prove he was above the cut. It's really good.
'Laoch na hOibrithe' does indeed translate as Workers' Hero. I was trying for Working Class Hero, but I was having trouble with my secondary genitives. You know how it is.

'We did retain some of the silver and etiquette' - I can't deny you that Sarah, but as Charlie still remains me darling I don't think any further keening on my part will do anything other than irritate. I concede the field, but will continue to enjoy your blog. Thanks Sarah - you're a good sport.
The worst thing about the series is that it will become the definitive TV series about Haughey. In reality it was little more than a pass leaving certificate regurgitation of well known facts. There was no attempt to look beneath the surface or to question the statements of those interviewed. In the end it was an interesting if frustrating way to pass 4 hours.
Dear Laoch, Humour will never irritate! thanks!
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