Charlie Haughey's colourful career is being depicted in a TV drama. But Irish Independent photographer Tom Burke was there when historic events involving the Fianna Fáil leader happened. Over 25 years, he often got unprecedented access to the former Taoiseach and his family. Here he recalls photographing the life and times of Charles J Haughey.
IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Charlie had just been elected party leader and Taoiseach in December 1979, and he, PJ Mara (on left) and a gang of Fianna Fail deputies were arriving for a press conference which was being held in a small room upstairs in Government Buildings. But the room was stuffed to the rafters, so I got stuck standing at the door. I turned around and spotted the group rushing down what was definitely the corridor of power that evening. Charlie probably spotted the camera and just instinctively waved, and I just thought, "To hell with it," lifted the camera and went to work - even though taking photos on the corridors was definitely not the done thing.
I was out in Abbeville quite a bit, and this time it was to take a family photo in November 1979. Eimear Haughey is a sweetheart, and Maureen looks very happy and relaxed in this shot. Even though photographers were out in the house regularly, we didn't have access to much of the house, not the ballroom or the private quarters, just the study.
LORD OF THE MANOR
There was a photo-call in Abbeville to promote a vintage car rally. But it was pouring rain and Charlie was grumbling, "Will it ever stop f**king raining? The hay needs cutting." So I said: "Would you not think of making silage out of it?" He looked at me and said: "Burkey - you don't give silage to thoroughbreds."
Photographers loved Charlie on the campaign trail because he had great instinct. When other candidates were in halls, he'd be on the road, stopping to chat with a fella making hay or a woman getting the messages - a human interest shot that often ended up on the front pages. He had charisma when addressing a crowd - in this picture he's canvassing in Gorey, Co Wexford, in 1969. He made sure his regular photographers were OK - once he asked a pushy foreign TV crew to move out of our line of sight. "I don't work with you every day, but I do work with these guys," he told them.
WITH GARRET THE GOOD
Garret FitzGerald was a gentleman, but there was always an extra bit of tension in the air when Charlie and Garret went up against each other. The two of them were getting the measure of each other in this handshake before going head-to-head on RTE's Seven Days programme, and there was presenter Brian Farrell in the background, looking like he was enjoying the performance in front of him.