Charlie Haughey refused to have an operation to remove his prostate even though it could have prolonged his life, because it would have made him impotent, according to historian Tim Pat Coogan.
In a new book, Coogan writes how Haughey was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996, but was assured that if the prostate was removed he would survive. "However, he was also informed that the operation would render him impotent.
"He refused to undergo the procedure, even though he was warned that in all probability the cancer would thereby spread and kill him.
"He refused the operation saying: 'No: there's life in the old man yet'. He died in 2006."
In his new book on the history of Ireland since 1916, former 'Irish Press' editor Coogan includes fascinating stories about Haughey, Ian Paisley and Bishop Eamon Casey, among many others. The new book, titled 'The Mornings After', was launched in Dublin last night.
Coogan has colourful tales to tell about Albert Reynolds, who he credits with doing more to bring about peace in the North than any of his predecessors as Taoiseach.
He says that on his very first morning as Taoiseach, Reynolds phoned an old friend from the dancehall business in the North who was very close to Ian Paisley.
"If your man wants to deal, I will deal," Reynolds said. Nothing happened for a week and then Reynolds' private phone rang.
His contact said that Paisley would not deal "until he gets the top job".
Coogan says this shows that "after all the years of bloodshed and turmoil, to which he had contributed so much, Paisley was admitting that his main objective all along had not been 'Ulster' and the Protestant heritage, but power".
"Reynolds himself, in his two years and then months in office, was a key player at this stage of the peace process," Coogan writes. "In my view, Reynolds was absolutely instrumental in bringing this deal within reach."
Coogan also offers new insight into the affair between Bishop Eamon Casey and Annie Murphy. "Annie shared digs at the time with a woman I've known since she was a teenager," Coogan writes.
"When Annie returned after weekends with Casey, she told my friend about romping with her new lover, sometimes dressed as Eamon liked her - in a bikini.
"Annie scoffed at my friend's reception of her stories: 'You Irish girls are so prudish!'"
Coogan says that it took some time before the story became public. He says his "discreet friend" maintained silence about what was going on between Annie and Bishop Eamon for almost twenty years, "lest she caused scandal."
Overall, the book attempts to assess the moral development of the nation since 1916.
'The Mornings After - From the Courts Martial to the Tribunals' by Tim Pat Coogan is published by Head of Zeus at €22.50. Read a full review in the 'Irish Independent Weekend Review' this Saturday.