PJ Mara is looking forward to seeing himself on screen portrayed by Tom Vaughan Lawlor in the long awaited three part series on the life of Charlie Haughey.
The 72-year-old press secretary and former adviser to Charlie Haughey has said that he will watch the series when it is aired next year:
“I want to be flattered and remembered well. I have no idea how they will depict me, will have to wait and see how they do a job.”
“Of course I will watch it. I am vain enough and Tom Vaughan Lawlor has a big a reputation now as big as Charlie Haughey’s. I have every confidence in him and am sure RTE will be balanced in its treatment,” he told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE this morning.
He revealed he would be happy to meet with Tom Vaughan Lawlor, who has been spotted in government buildings researching the role in the past week:
“I will of course meet him if we wants to, they are starting shooting this week. I wouldn’t advise an actor, he has got a script, and they have their own way of going about their business. “
He said he would hope that they series will be balanced and show all sides of Charlie Haughey, who is to be played by Aidan Gillen.
“It is in the hands of the script writers, actors and producers,” he said. “I hope the series does him justice as he was multi faceted and that his strength be brought out equally with the fault finding.”
“It amazes me that it is 22 years since Charlie Haughey was Taoiseach and I was press secretary, and it is extraordinary that the interest and fascination has lasted a quarter of a century,” he said.
Recalling the Dermot Morgan Scrap Saturday sketches that depicted their relationship:“I was asked years ago about Scrap Saturday and I said I was always pleased with something that kept the Irish middle class happy in their beds, and I hope this series will do the same and be good viewing.”
However he feels that history to date has not been kind to Charlie Haughey, and he hopes the forthcoming series will be balanced.
“It was different times then. There are politicians that capture the public imagination, all kinds of myths and stories grow up around them. All the way to the end there was huge popular opinion around him. The fascination has sustained itself, not unlike in Britain with Thatcher, and that is haunting the British conservative party to today.”
He and Haughey were friends for over 30 years, and he visited him right up to his death in 2006:
“We were friends long before we started working, we worked together for 10 years, and remained friends until the end.”
He admitted that the end for Haughey was “pretty miserable” but that he didn’t believe Haughey reflected too much on his political shortcomings.
“He wasn’t a great person for retrospection, he had other interests outside of politics, many don’t have a hinterland of things that engage them and kept them happy and absorbed. But he did.”
The revelation by Terry Keane of her affair with Charlie Haughey on the Late Late Show was he imagines one of the most painful moments for the former leader.
“It was a betrayal and that is hard to take for anyone. He never really talked about it, but it was not something that he dwelt on, but of course it was upsetting.
“He wasn’t the first man who had an affair and he won’t be the last, men do that and women do that and people have different sides to their character, and he was not unique in that respect.”
The spin doctor, whose wife Brenda passed away a decade ago and has a son in his 30s, became a father at 71 four months ago with his new partner, but he admitted that he doesn’t roll up his sleeves when it comes to baby duties.
“I never change nappies, I am not a new dad. I didn’t do it the first time round and won’t do it now. “
He was one of the few who predicted that the government’s Seanad abolition referendum would be defeated said that the campaign was “appalling, crude and vulgar”.
“I was one of the few who predicted the Seandad defeat. People I spoke with thought it through, and didn’t think it was a great proposition and decided to vote again it for all sorts of reasons.
“The campaign was terrible and wouldn’t inspire people to support it. Middle class people were dubious, and the interesting thing it was heavily defeated in blue and white collar areas. It was terrible and appalling and whoever dreamt it up should be fired.”
“I wouldn’t see Bertie that much anyway. We’re not friends like me and Charlie were. I do still talk to a lot of his chums. I haven’t seen Brian in a while, but our paths don’t cross. He lives in Offaly and I’m in Dublin.”