SOCIAL diarist, Ms Terry Keane, is to receive a financial package worth almost £600,000 over two years from the Sunday Times for her act of ultimate betrayal against the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. A Sunday Independent telephone poll reveals that two thirds of the public disapprove of her decision to sell her story.
Ms Keane, who has had a 27-year love affair with Mr Haughey, told the former Taoiseach of her intention to sell the story only a day before the radio promotion for her kiss 'n' tell commenced.
Mr Haughey, who is maintaining a dignified silence, was shattered by her calculating plan. Close friends were yesterday speculating that the final lunch at a Dublin restaurant on Thursday marked the end of their tumultuous affair.
Contrary to Ms Keane's claims on the Late Late Show, Mr Haughey was devastated by her plan and urged strongly against it in an attempt to maintain at least some privacy at this, his most difficult time.
Paradoxically, it now seems certain that the Moriarty Tribunal will seek a discovery order against Ms Terry Keane, whose admission on the Late Late Show that she was intimately involved in all his affairs (including the affairs of State) has led to speculation that she can cast some light on his financial dealings.
Mr Haughey's desire for some last shred of confidentiality in his life, as the tribunal continues its work, was illustrated by his pleas on March 23 last to another author, this time of a book touching superficially on his lifestyle.
Mary Rose Doorly, the author of Abbeville The Family Home of Charles J Haughey, had reached agreement with the Sunday Times to write two articles on the unique 18-month access afforded for researching her book. The first article was to appear on March 28.
Yesterday Ms Doorly confirmed that she had the articles pulled because Mr Haughey had begged her not to go ahead with them.
From notes of their conversation, which was initiated by him in a telephone call to her home, she revealed what he said: ``I'm pleading with you. Please don't do this. If you do this I'll have lost all faith in humanity. That's the end. That will be it. Over.
``The Sunday Times have been conducting a hate campaign against me for ages. They wrote another excoriating piece last Sunday. I don't know, I'll have to sue.''
When Ms Doorly asked if he would sue her, he said: ``I don't know. I'll have to sue someone.'' Ms Doorly said Mr Haughey sounded ``very weary'' ``He was very, very low. He was almost whispering.''
When she immediately pulled the articles, Mr Haughey said: ``Thank God. What a relief.'' He then suggested that she could write a ``softer piece'', but not for the Sunday Times, which he described as a ``scurrilous newspaper''. He suggested, instead, the Sunday Independent, with the comment: ``You can trust them.''
But even as Mr Haughey relaxed at having staved off a minor embarrassment in the form of Doorly's book, a plot was being hatched that would test any remaining faith he had in humanity.
When Terry Keane resigned from the Sunday Independent at around 2.30pm on Friday, it was the culmination of months of secret dealings with John Ryan and Rory Godson of the Sunday Times, in an effort to boost the static circulation of that newspaper.
So precise was the organisation of the betrayal that as Ms Keane was promoting the sale of her story of the affair on the Late Late Show, Ryan and Godson were drafting the first extract which took them until the early hours of Saturday morning.
If Terry Keane gave her former lover one day's notice of her intentions, she gave her employers merely hours in fact the radio promotions for the kiss 'n' tell had already begun. She collected her post from the office and delivered a hand-written note on her personalised notepaper addressed to the editor, Aengus Fanning, and deputy editor, Anne Harris.
It read: ``Dear Anne and Aengus, I am leaving Sunday Independent with immediate effect. I had hoped to tell you this over luncheon on Wednesday but it was not to be. I wish you both all the best. Regards, Terry Keane.''
Contrary to the impression given on the Late Late Show, Terry Keane, as recently as 10 days ago, restated her commitment to the Sunday Independent and the Keane Edge in conversations with Ms Harris. In one of these she declared that she had a contract ``for an awful lot of money'' in her hand. She intimated that she would not be taking it up. ``I want to stay with you,'' she told Ms Harris, ``but I want a lot more money.''
It is known in her immediate circle that Terry Keane was perturbed about the forthcoming publication of a book about Mr Haughey which would allude to the affair.
That book by journalist Kevin O'Connor, with financial research by Brendan Keenan to be published under O'Connor's imprint, claims Mr Haughey's romance with Terry Keane was costing the politician £2,000 a week.
Ms Keane is understood to be receiving £400,000 for four ghosted articles about her life with the former Taoiseach. She is also to receive £85,000 p.a. for lending her name to an as yet unspecified column for two years. There is a further arrangement for a severance payment of £85,000 at the end of her contract.
But yesterday Sunday Independent editor Aengus Fanning said he believed Ms Keane's departure from the newspaper was financially motivated and not due to disillusionment with her column. ``She was happy to take our money, while making no contribution. Her work rate had declined dramatically in the last two years,'' he said.
He revealed that the Sunday Independent could not match the ``substantial package'' she had been offered. So the die was cast. In the end she sold her love affair for a mess of potage. And the column? Well, as the Keane Edge might say: the Keane is dead, long live the Keen.