Friday 22 November 2019

'Sinister' Charlie bang on in RTE TV drama, reveals Des O'Malley

Des O'Malley
Des O'Malley
Marcus Lamb as Des O'Malley in new RTÉ drama Charlie
Gavin O'Connor as Sean Doherty in RTÉ's three part drama Charlie
Fianna Fail TDs G.V. Wright , left, and Sean Doherty in 2002
Aiden Gillen and Tom Vaughen Lawlor in Charlie.
Alan O'Keefe

Alan O'Keefe

Former government minister Des O'Malley has said RTE's drama series Charlie accurately portrays former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and the "sinister" atmosphere surrounding his leadership.

The man who broke away from Haughey's Fianna Fail also said the controversial portrayal of former Justice Minister Sean Doherty, in which he appears as an unscrupulous henchman of Haughey, was also correct.

Mr Doherty's daughter Rachel said yesterday she was "angry and disgusted" at the portrayal of her father (by actor Gavin O'Connor), which she claimed was "ridiculous, farcical, far-fetched, over the top and cartoonish."

But Mr O'Malley told the Herald: "They got Doherty right."

He acknowledged that certain incidents depicted in the drama did not happen, but it was acceptable because it was not a documentary.

"The general thrust of the thing was right," he said.

One dramatic scene depicted a violent assault on TD Jim Gibbons by men who appeared to be fellow members of the Fianna Fail parliamentary party. It happened after Haughey survived a no-confidence motion at a party meeting in Leinster House in 1982.

In the drama, Mr O'Malley's character, played by Marcus Lamb, grabs a ceremonial sword from a wall and swings it around to stop the assault.

"I did not attack anyone with a sword," he said.

"The attack on Gibbons actually happened and he was kicked in the chest and the stomach. He was rescued, but it wasn't by me. I didn't witness it.

"It was not Dail deputies who were involved in the attack. It was four fellows who were drinking all day in the Dail bar who were supporters of Mr Haughey."

Mr O'Malley said there was no investigation afterwards, and added that gardai "were discouraged from looking into" the assault on Mr Gibbons.

"Two or three days later, he suffered a heart attack," he said.

READ: Councillor Rachel Doherty 'angry and disgusted' by 'cartoonish' portrayal of her late father Sean Doherty in 'Charlie'

Mr O'Malley said many events in the drama were "foreshortened" and "the chronology was wrong and could be misleading".

"But it got the attitudes right," he said, referring to Haughey getting around party rules on ballots in no-confidence motions which ensured he managed "to intimidate people into voting for him".

He paid tribute to actor Aidan Gillen's portrayal of the former Taoiseach.

"The actor was certainly able to get the sinister aspect across well. And the atmosphere of the time was got across very well," he said.

Mr O'Malley found it "rather amusing" that his own character said the words "conduct unbecoming" in his verbal attack on Haughey.

"The words 'conduct unbecoming' were in reality used by Mr Haughey about me. It was he who charged me with conduct unbecoming when he got me thrown out of Fianna Fail," he said.

Mr O'Malley went on to form the Progressive Democrats and later led the new party into a coalition government with Haughey.

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