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Animosity ended with tea in Abbeville study

DR Garret FitzGerald went for the first time to the home of his old political adversary Charlie Haughey to "say goodbye" in the months before Mr Haughey's death.

He had arranged the meeting a few months before Mr Haughey died in June 2006 after a long battle with cancer. The two men had been at loggerheads during their political careers -- and their rivalry had often spilled over into extremely personal exchanges in the 1980s.

Their hour-long meeting in the study of Mr Haughey's stately home in Abbeville was described as "very amicable, with no animosity", although the conversation was about lighter subjects rather than serious political issues.

Mr Haughey's son, Sean, told the Irish Independent last night that his father had been "very happy" that the meeting had taken place.

"It was a once-off. It was recognising that my father was seriously ill and basically saying goodbye to each other," he said.

The former FG leader had requested the meeting by phoning Sean Haughey, then a Fianna Fail junior minister. Dr FitzGerald had tea with Mr Haughey and his wife Maureen. The three had studied at UCD together.

"They discussed their college days and mutual friends, light chit-chat like that," Sean Haughey said.

He said that he and his siblings had been very conscious of the "sharp political exchanges" that took place between the two men.

"I think they were passionate times in Irish politics in the 1980s. It did verge on the personal, but looking back on it, it was just politics and that's how it operates," he said.

Mr Haughey said he would be attending Dr FitzGerald's funeral on Sunday, but that his mother would not be physically able to go.

"She has asked me to go and represent the family," he said.

Irish Independent