Entertainment Television

Monday 22 July 2019

Family of Charles Haughey slam TV bosses over portrayal in Charlie

Former Taiseach Charlie Haughey
Former Taiseach Charlie Haughey

Sarah Stack

The son of the late Charles Haughey has slammed the production of a TV drama on his life, claiming it never captured the warm, caring and fun man they knew.

Sean Haughey revealed his 89-year-old mother Maureen was "a divil for punishment" and watched all three episodes of the three-week RTE drama with her children, which portrayed the former Taoiseach’s rise to power and subsequent fall

He also hit out at the portrayal of his father’s affair with Terry Keane.

"The main shock was the prominence given to Terry Keane and the pillow talk scenes. That was a bit of a shock," he said.

Charles Haughey with Terry Keane
Charles Haughey with Terry Keane
Haughey family at dinner. From left: Kieran, Eimear, Charlie, Maureen and Connor. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie: Peter O'Meara, who plays Brian Lenihan Snr in RTE's new drama 'Charlie' with fellow-cast members Aidan Gillen, left, and Risteard Cooper outside Government Buildings. Photo: Steve Humphreys

“I think it could have been dealt with much more sensitively,” Mr Haughey added, insisting that Ms Keane’s influence on his father was overstated.

Mr Haughey told RTE’ Joe Duffy on Liveline that the family were a bit shocked at the first episode aired on television.

 “As the series went on I thought it wasn’t too bad, particularly the last episode,” the Dublin City Councillor said.

“I don’t think it captured my father’s personality at all. He came across as a very unlikeable character that that power hungry and that was all that made him tick.

“For me I knew a completely different person, someone who was warm and kind and compassionate and caring and emotional and fun.

“I’ve no doubt maybe the people who had worked with him, that was the side they saw in the programme, but for meet I knew a very different person.”

He claimed they got the portrayal of his father - one dimensional, power crazy and money crazy - was "all wrong".

Ms Keane had a 27-year love affair with Mr Haughey, but his son said Mrs Haughey remains a very private woman and he can “only speculate” as to whether she knew about their relationship.

“She is going to kill me now for talking about it again,” he said.

He said it was “a different generation, different times” adding that “things like that went on in politics and right throughout society, generally”.

“She obviously kept her views to herself in that regard,” he added.

Mr Haughey admitted it would have caused a huge embarrassment for his mother when Mr Keane, a Sunday Independent social columnist, revealed the affair on the Late Late Show in 1989.

Charles Haughey and Maureen on board Celtic Mist
Charles Haughey and Maureen on board Celtic Mist
Haughey family at dinner. From left: Kieran, Eimear, Charlie, Maureen and Connor. Photo: Tom Burke
Mr Haughey's widow Maureen (83) looks at a photograph of her husband alongside her children, l-r, Ciaran Haughey, Eimear Mulhern, Conor Haughey and Sean Haughey

“I’m not privy to all the details but you would have thought the two of them dealt with the issue in their own way,” he said.

“From what I could see right throughout their married life, particularly in latter years, they loved each other and you could really see that in their latter years when my father was sick.”

However Mr Haughey, a former Fianna Fail TD and junior minister, maintained his mother had played a huge role in public life, accompanying her husband on State visits, yet she was completely ignored in the series.

“Maybe better she wasn’t portrayed, that would be a terrible invasion of privacy,” he added.

Mr Haughey said while Ms Keane was part of the story, the relationship should not have been a constant theme throughout the three parts of the drama.

He admitted there had been rumours, and it didn’t take much to put two and two together, but “at the end of the day I can say with my hand on my heart he was a very good father, there for all the occasions, very supportive and we couldn’t have asked for more”.

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