Saturday 16 February 2019

Charles Haughey was 'so dangerous at the end' - former newspaper editor Geraldine Kennedy

Actor Aiden Gillen as former Taoiseach Chariles Haughey in the RTE drama 'Charlie'
Actor Aiden Gillen as former Taoiseach Chariles Haughey in the RTE drama 'Charlie'
Former Taiseach Charlie Haughey
Charlie Haughey and Margaret Thatcher, 1980
Aidan Gillen as Charlie Haughey in 'Charlie'.
Aidan Gillen as Haughey in 'Charlie'

David Kearns

Charles Haughey was a "substantial politician" with "real potential", former Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy said today.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland earlier today, Ms Kennedy said that while this made him "promising" at the start of his career, it also what made him "so dangerous at the end".

It was this aspect of Haughey's character which RTE drama 'Charlie' failed to capture, Ms Kennedy said.

Ms Kennedy, who was also a TD for the now defunct Progressive Democrats party, was giving her view on RTE three-part drama 'Charlie'.

The former editor is depicted in the drama by actor Jody O'Neil.

Despite taking issue with some of the series’ portrayals, most notably that of George Colley, whose on-screen character she described as "a culchie back bencher", she still believes that the three part series was "very true to life... especially for those of us who were privileged to be there" during the Haughey era.

Jody O'Neill as journalist Geraldine Kennedy
Jody O'Neill as journalist Geraldine Kennedy
Geraldine Kennedy
Charlie Haughey with Fianna Fail deputies and PJ Mara (left) make their to the press conference in Government Buildings following his election as Fianna Fail leader in 1979 . Photo: Tom Burke
Haughey family at dinner. From left: Kieran, Eimear, Charlie, Maureen and Connor. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Haughey at his home Abbeville

Praising the series as a whole, Ms Kennedy, who was among a number of journalists whose phones were tapped on orders from the former Taoiseach, criticised it for failing to move beyond the endless brown envelopes that fueled his lifestyle.

"He was flamboyant, bullying and obsessed with power and money but he was far more than this," she told Morning Ireland, reflecting on her time as a political correspondent during the Haughey era.

"He was a substantial politician that had real potential. This is what made him so promising at first and so dangerous at the end."

Referring to the "dramatic license" taken by the series' scriptwriters, Ms Kennedy caused a minor flutter for RTE broadcaster Cathal MacCoille when she uttering the ‘f’ word when referring to the portrayal of government press secretary Dermot Nally.

"He would never tell a Taoiseach to f--- off," she told MacCoille.

"Thanks for that," he replied.

As for her own depiction in the series, Ms Kennedy said she had been surprised by her inclusion, adding that she saw her character’s role in the series as a ‘composite’ of other journalists.

"There was the assumption that Haughey’s money came from the construction sector in the 1960s but no one was really sure. There were a lot of journalists asking awkward questions at the time.

Aiden Gillen as Charlie Haughey
Aiden Gillen as Charlie Haughey
Haughey family at dinner. From left: Kieran, Eimear, Charlie, Maureen and Connor. Photo: Tom Burke
Haughey family at dinner. From left: Kieran, Eimear, Charlie, Maureen and Connor. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Haughey and Dr, Garret FitzGerald shake hands befored an RTE TV Seven Days programme in centre is presenter Brian Farrell. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Haughey
Taoiseach-elect Charlies Haughey and his mother Sarah in 1970. Photo: Tom Burke

"As for the Terry Keane affair, it was not something he was asked about as none of us were in the bed with the pair to know what was really going on between them."

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