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Thursday 19 January 2017

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

Chris Parkin

Published 31/12/2010 | 05:00

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

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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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