Wednesday 7 December 2016

Haughey, like royalty, never carried cash

John Spain Books Editor

Published 14/11/2011 | 05:00

The late Tony Gregory
The late Tony Gregory

CHARLIE Haughey could not buy a drink in the local pub when the famous Gregory deal for inner city Dublin was signed in 1982, a new book reveals.

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The biography of the late Tony Gregory claims that, like royalty, Mr Haughey didn't carry cash.

After the stalemate of the February 1982 General Election, Mr Haughey was desperate to get the support of the new young TD, Mr Gregory. To do so, he went to Mr Gregory's election office in Summerhill in the inner city, an area of great poverty and decay at the time.

Commenting at the time, the historian John A Murphy said: "There is an element of farce in the sight of a millionaire island- owner seeking to woo a representative of the poorest people in Dublin."

In return for supporting Mr Haughey for Taoiseach, Mr Gregory got a special deal for the area worth £100m. It was a triumph both for the young TD and the man who was about to become Taoiseach.

As the negotiations neared a conclusion, Mr Gregory, Mr Haughey, and Mr Gregory's main advisers, Mick Rafferty and Fergus McCabe, decided to go to a local pub for a drink. But as the book reveals, when the pints came, Mr Haughey was unable to pay for the round.

The book, by TCD Professor of Social Policy Rob Gilligan, says that it was Mr Rafferty who suggested going for a drink in the Sunset House, a rough local bar.

"Taoiseach, would you like to have a drink in the Sunset before you go home?" Mr Rafferty asked. He noticed that Mr Haughey clearly liked the form of address, even if it was still a little premature -- his longtime opponent, Garret FitzGerald, still actually held the office.

When they came outside it was raining so they chose to go next door to Belton's instead.

They arrived in the pub -- then 'a kip' in Mr McCabe's recollection. Drinks were ordered -- pints for the lads and a gin and tonic for. Mr Haughey.

As the barman told them the total for the round, Mr Haughey explained that he didn't carry cash. That was clearly for lesser mortals, the book says.

Mr Rafferty had no money on him and Mr Gregory did not rush to offer. Mr McCabe recalls that he was the one who "blinked first".

According to the book, Mr Haughey was not at all embarrassed. He couldn't resist a spot of teasing: "Lads, would ye never think of joining Fianna Fail?"

But Mr Gregory and his friends knew that they were the big winners, said nothing and smirked into their pints.

Irish Independent

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