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Sunday 8 December 2019

Terry Keane interview left a chill at Abbeville

Charles Haughey
Charles Haughey
Terry Keane on 'The Late Late Show'
Maureen Haughey


THE morning after gossip columnist Terry Keane revealed on The Late Late Show that she was the mistress of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey was "not a barrel of a laughs" at the then family home in Abbeville in Kinsealy, his son Sean revealed yesterday.

Sean Haughey, who said he was not living there at the time, said his mother Maureen has never spoken about it but he told RTE's Marian Finucane that if she had interviewed his mother that morning she may have got a few "unprintable quotes".

Offering a rare glimpse into what was once the most powerful political family in the land, he said the day after the Late Late appearance in 1999 by Charles Haughey's long-time mistress was a "reflective sort of day".

He repeated that, as Gay Byrne had said, his mother must have known about the affair -- "for the rest of us there were rumours and it did not take a lot to put two and two together".

Sean Haughey said his mother was affected by the "sheer embarrassment" of it, particularly regarding her grandchildren hearing about it. But he said there were other things going on in the family and one of her grandchildren was quite ill in Temple Street Hospital at the time.

He said his mother was a great judge of character, and she had something to say with a great history behind her.

However, referring to her background role in his father's life and career, he said: "Oh, there was no kitchen cabinet in our house.

"If she dared to express a view, she would be met with the stare people are familiar with."

He said he had persuaded her to dictate her memoirs, which dealt with some political issues, but they were mostly about the family and any publication would have to be with her agreement.

However, there was a "good book" in it.

"There is a lot of curiosity about her. She has been a very private, loyal wife, with a great dignity about her, and it's great to get it down on paper."

Mrs Haughey's mother, Kathleen Lemass, had played a similar role to his grandfather Sean Lemass, where she was the politician's wife who supported her husband and "fed the canvassers".

Mr Haughey, referring to his controversial father, said his lifestyle was the flaw in his life.

"I've tried to understand why, it may have to do with the poverty of his childhood," he said.

"He was a great father, he was there and available for advice, for permission to go to a disco he would have said yes, and he has lasting achievements that can't be taken away from him", he said.

Sean Haughey, a former minister of state, said his family name was an advantage when he entered politics but "with the turn of events that became a disadvantage".

He added that he had his "ups and downs" with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, saying: "Bertie was terrified to promote a Haughey which would have been seen to go back to the Moriarty and McCracken tribunals."

However, people could distinguish between father and son and it was a family decision to invite Mr Ahern give the oration at Charles Haughey's graveside.

Referring to Brian Cowen, he said Mr Cowen became overwhelmed with problems and lacked the skill to communicate.

"He may have been haunted that he did not take the right decisions as Minister for Finance. People will respond to leadership in a crisis but Cowen was not able to do that."

Sean Haughey, who lost his seat at the last election, said the family did not believe the Moriarty Report got it all right in references to his father's role in the funding for Brian Lenihan Sr's operation -- and the Lenihans were more then happy at the efforts his father made in that regard.

He said when he asked Brian Lenihan Jr to read the Prayers of the Faithful at his father's funeral, Mr Lenihan had burst out crying and said he was very honoured. Mr Haughey, who said his mother never returned to the family home Abbeville -- which is now for on the market, with €7.5m asking price -- said he may return to politics at city council level.

He also spoke about getting involved with the cleft lip charity, a condition he was born with -- and said he had gone back to further his education, taking courses in basic law and social media.

Sunday Independent

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