Friday 24 March 2017

State papers - 1980: Begging letters to CJ but friends came first

Chris Parkin

LIKE many Taoisigh, Charles Haughey was besieged by begging letters once he reached the State's ultimate political power point.

Newly released official papers for 1980 -- Mr Haughey's first full year in office -- have revealed the amount of pressure he came under from people believing him to be a multimillionaire racehorse owner and bon viveur living in a mansion-style home on a big estate in north Dublin.

There were pleas for financial and other kinds of help from all over the country -- and from all age groups.

One 13-year-old, the son of a Co Limerick farmer, wrote in at Christmas with a hard-luck story based on his being caught driving his father's tractor.

A mother from Walkinstown, Dublin, catalogued a series of problems besetting her family and centring on her son's drinking habits.

An out-of-luck writer, who said his plays had been performed on RTE and on the stage, asked Mr Haughey to help him get a grant from the Arts Council to prevent his enforced emigration to England.

And a songwriter requested the Taoiseach to relay his lyrics to Eurovision winner Johnny Logan. In that case, Mr Haughey helpfully passed on the address of the singer's record company -- apparently acquiring the information from RTE.

Interestingly, the person on the Haughey staff asked to seek RTE's assistance was told "Don't identify this office as the source of the inquiry -- say you're a fan."

The Taoiseach's secretary generally dealt with pleas for financial assistance by saying: "Mr Haughey has been forced to limit his personal charity to people he knows personally."

Irish Independent

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