Monday 20 November 2017

James Downey: Bad banking, public pay and lofty speeches -- so what's new?

CHARLES J Haughey was elected Taoiseach in December 1979 following the retirement of Jack Lynch. He took over a country deep in debt and plagued by disastrous industrial relations.

In just six months of 1979, 1.3 million man-days had been lost through strikes. The most damaging was a postal strike that lasted 19 weeks. During this period, the Revenue Commissioners could not collect taxes. Electricity and gas bills went unpaid. Exports, investments and tourist numbers all fell.

When Haughey became Taoiseach, many in the Fianna Fail Party and outside it viewed him as a potential saviour. They derived enormous encouragement from a television address which he made to the nation on January 9, 1980.

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