Wednesday 21 November 2018

Des Hanafin

SHANE ROSS BUSINESSMAN Des Hanafin bade farewell to politics three years ago. He said goodbye to business a few years earlier.

He departed from the Seanad with an amusing anecdote. As "father of the house" he claimed a first. It was the only time, he said, in the history of Irish politics that "the father of the house" had also been "the father of the minister". His daughter Mary, now Minister for Education, sat in the public gallery, having earlier steered legislation through the Seanad under his eagle eye.

Today Hanafin proudly monitors the progress of his daughter Mary and his son John, now a senator.

Hanafin has mellowed. He was once a crusty, demanding director of Transinternational Oil Company, which later backed into high-flying exploration outfit Aran Energy. There he sat on the board with oil moguls like Michael Whelan and Howard Kilroy.

From within Fianna Fail he was a fierce opponent of Charlie Haughey, especially when he was chief fundraiser of the party. Hanafin fought many battles on social issues like divorce and abortion, never antagonising the other side to the point of endangering long-fostered friendships.

A few heart bypasses have not quenched his enthusiasm for charitable works. Friends from his home in Thurles say that last year he joined the directors of the Thurles dog track to raise funds for the Christina Noble foundation.

This month Hanafin marks the 50th anniversary of reaching political office. He will not be drawn on his daughter's prospects of becoming Ireland's first woman Taoiseach. But there is little prospect that he would stand in her way.

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