Saturday 20 January 2018

Haughey's defiance would have secured a better bailout deal

Charles Haughey sowed the seeds of our future success, so we should
not just define the man by some of the damning episodes from his past.
Charles Haughey sowed the seeds of our future success, so we should not just define the man by some of the damning episodes from his past.
Eamon Delaney

Eamon Delaney

It's an annual ritual now. At this time of year, every year, the Irish state papers are released, after the 30-year hold back, and they usually heavily feature the actions and thoughts of Charles J Haughey, the most controversial politician of our modern era. And, inevitably, these revelations are damning, with more stories about attempts to rail-road civil servants and reward cronies, but they can also be positive, with Haughey revealed to have shown an imaginative quality in dealing with the economy and with Northern Ireland.

Haughey was in and out of power from 1979 to the early 90s, so we will have many more such revelations. But in fact, from 1983 on, Haughey's record should be getting better. The worst of the GUBU period is over and he goes into opposition, while the FG/Labour government try to sort out the mess that both he, and they (and indeed the population at large) was responsible for. Not that Haughey completely changes. He pursues opposition for opposition's sake, but who didn't then, and have things really changed?

In 1984, Haughey disowned the ground-breaking New Ireland Forum, and later even opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, but then worked it when he got into power in 1987. But from then on, Haughey starts to act like a proper leader and, in tandem with the PDs (his dreaded enemy), he takes the corrective economic measures and sows the seeds of our future success. What undid Haughey in the end -- he left the stage in 1991 -- was his sheer age, as well as further minor revelations about the phone tappings of the early 1980s.

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