Wednesday 22 January 2020

Geldof hits out at the conspiracy of silence around Charlie Haughey

The grumpy rocker penned a famous Rats' song about the former Taoiseach, whom he loathed, says Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Barry Egan

BOB GELDOF has revealed his hatred for former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey fuelled his rage against state corruption as a rebellious young musician.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent, it is clear the angry Irish rocker who told the 1.5 billion TV audience of Live Aid in 1985 that "people are dying now. Give us the money now!", hasn't lost any of his fury.

And Geldof, who recently performed two comeback shows with the Boomtown Rats in Vicar Street, didn't hold back his loathing for Haughey.

He won't be rushing to watch RTE's forthcoming drama Citizen Charlie about the former Fianna Fail leader that Geldof once compared to Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe.

He said that he wrote Banana Republic – perhaps The Rats' most acerbic song about Ireland in the Eighties – primarily because of Haughey. He referred to the money Haughey made from dodgy business deals; the guns and bullets bought for the IRA to kill other Irish people, referring to the Arms Trial of 1970.

Geldof added that the Catholic Church knew about it, but they stayed quiet because they were busy abusing the children of their flock.

"Haughey knew," he told the Sunday Independent. He feels Banana Republic is now more relevant about this country than ever. As Bob infamously rages on the song: "And I wonder do you wonder/ While you're sleeping with your whore/That sharing beds with history/Is like a-licking running sores."

"I was addressing Haughey directly," he said. "They were all in it together – the police and the legal system and the church. The truth of it is that we were all complicit by our silence. We all thought it was normal. I knew Kevin Sharkey, who was in an orphanage. We all heard about the Magdalene Laundries. We knew what Haughey was up to. We knew very well about the nonsense in the North. F**k off! 'Collecting for the boys!' F**k off! I saw Haughey at Philip Lynott's funeral. I nearly gagged."

Although he lives in England, and has done for many years, Geldof follows Irish politics closely. "I have a right to a point of view. The personalities change. I know there is a Budget coming up and I know it is going to be nightmarish and I know they are running for cover. I know the other lot are trying to gain credibility," he says, referring to Fianna Fail. "Yada, yada, yada. And so it goes on," He groans.

How you feel about the possibility of Sinn Fein in government in a few years?

"Uneasy. I don't like nationalism."

He thinks any young Irish person listening to Rats' songs like Rat Trap and Looking After Number One ("I've waited on this dole queue too long") could easily think they were written now. Especially after listening to the bankers laughing at the nation on the Anglo Tapes or reading the recent allegations, since disputed, in Eamon Dunphy's book, The Rocky Road, that Haughey tipped off wealthy friends ahead of the sterling devaluation, netting them fortunes.

"If Haughey was here now he'd be dismayed at what I'm saying," Bob says.

"But I've caught him out, like I have others. I'm sure his family don't like me going on about this but, you know, it is not deniable. Worse is our silence, our terrible claustrophobia of silence. That's what's always been wrong. We accepted it as our lot then."

But young people in Ireland are no longer silent. They are speaking out about the banking crisis and the politicians and what they see is wrong with Ireland in general. "Well, yes, they are speaking out," Bob says.

"Those who are not leaving. All political careers end in failure, and all generations fail in the end. And to my absolute dismay, ours failed more spectacularly than most – and we don't have an excuse."

Sunday Independent

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