Sunday 21 October 2018

Charlie...from a Northsider to a Fingallian in one fell swoop

After his marriage to Maureen Lemass in 1951, the Haugheys lived in a semi-detached house in a Raheny before moving in 1957 to Grangemore, a large Victorian mansion on a forty-five acre site in Raheny. He purchased it for £13,000 but with planning permission secured to build houses on the site, it was sold for £200,000 two years later.With that investment Haughey bo

FROM a northsider to a Fingallian in one fell swoop. That was the arrival of one Charles J Haughey to the region in 1959 when he moved from Grangemore in Raheny to his home for the next 42 years, Abbeville, Kinsealy.

After his marriage to Maureen Lemass in 1951, the Haugheys lived in a semi-detached house in a Raheny before moving in 1957 to Grangemore, a large Victorian mansion on a forty-five acre site in Raheny. He purchased it for £13,000 but with planning permission secured to build houses on the site, it was sold for £200,000 two years later.

With that investment Haughey bought Abbeville in Kinsealy. A majestic property, this 18th century mansion had served as the summer home for several Lord Lieutenants of Ireland prior to the Government securing the Viceregal Lodge (now Aras an Uachtarin).

Abbeville was designed by the renowned architect James Gandon, whose works included the Customs House and the Four Courts in Dublin. Haughey, his wife and their four children, Eimear, Conor, Ciarán, and Sean, who were all born between 1955 and 1961, moved into the house.

The 250-acre estate included some of the finest gardens in the Dublin area, and Haughey also set up a stud farm on the grounds.

While he was securing his home, Haughey's political career was also taking off. It was a career that saw him feted by many and hated by others.

But his life had so many twists and turns. He once owned a farm in Ashbourne, he famously set fire to a Union Jack on the steps of Trinity College, got banned for a year from the GAA for hitting a linsman and stood trial on gun-running charges. Whatever the occasion, Charles Haughey was rarely a loser.

Although greatly associated with the northside of Dublin he was actually a Mayo man, born Charles James Haughey in Castlebar on September 16, 1925, the second son of Commandant Johnny Haughey. Both his father and mother, the former Sarah McWilliams, were from Swartragh, County Derry. In 1928, on having left the army, Johnny Haughey and family moved to Sutton before moving on to Dunshaughlin where the young Charles Haughey began his education.

However, after his father developed MS, the young Haughey, who shared the home with brothers Sean, Eoghan and Jock plus sisters Maureen, Peggy and Sheila, found things hard, living on his father's army pension and a small IRA pension awarded to his mother. In the years to come Haughey would remember those days and was fundamental in reforming conditions for pensioners, including free travel.

The family moved again, back to the city and Belton Park Road and here Charlie Haughey went to Scoil Mhuire in Marino. He was soon found to be a bright lad, both in the classroom and on the playing fields. 'Joeys' of Fairview then beckoned before UCD.

It was in his first year at UCD that the infamous flag burning incident took place, as Trinity students celebrated the German surrender in 1945 by flying the flags of the Allied nations. However, they flew them above the Tricolour and when some locals objected some students proceded to burn it.

When this news reached UCD Haughey and some friends descended on Trinity and promptly unfurled a Union Jack and set fire to it. In those war years Haughey again saw the suffering of many and the few options people had with regard to work. Once more he had ammunition for his future political career.

Haughey joined Fianna Fail in 1948 and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Having worked with Harry Boland, he moved on having been called to the Bar in 1949. Two years later he entered business with Harry Boland, setting up an accountancy firm.

A Dublin SFC winner with Parnells, Haughey was a talented footballer, only bettered by his brother, the great Jock Haughey who played with Dublin in the 50s.

1951 saw Haughey stand for the Dail for the first time but he was unsuccessful. Three years later he lost his deposit and in 1956 - on the death of Alfie Byrne - again stood. But wasn't until a year later -1957- that he finally got in. After that he topped the poll in every subsequent election.

Haughey was first elected to the Dail in 1957. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in Justice, 1960-61, Minister for Justice, 1961-64, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, 1964-66 and Minister for Finance, 1966-70.

He effectively abolished the death penalty in 1963. Haughey introduced the Succession Bill in 1964 which removed discrimination against women in inheritance rights.

As Minister for Finance he introduced free electricity and free transport for old age pensioners.

In 1970 he was sacked from Cabinet after being accused, along with Neil Blaney, of illegally importing arms.

But he wasn’t down for long and in 1977 he was made Minister for Health and Social Welfare. In 1979 he became leader of Fianna Fáil and then Taoiseach when he defeated old adversary George Colley.

He would serve as Taoiseach for a total of four periods -1979 until 1981, in 1982 and again from 1987-89 and 1989-92.

Ater losing power to a Fine Gael-Labour Coalition in 1981, Haughey was Taoiseach again in 1982 but in another election later that year, the Coalition government was returned to power. In the General Election of February 1987, Haughey again failed to win a coveted overall majority but was elected Taoiseach on the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle.

His party lost four seats in the snap 1989 general election and Haughey entered a coalition for the first time in the party’s history – with the Progressive Democrats.

In 1992, he was forced to resign when it emerged that he was aware of the tapping of the telephones of two journalists.

He retired as leader of Fianna Fáil on January 30 and was replaced as Taoiseach on February 11 by Albert Reynolds. He retired from politics at the general election in 1992 when his son, Sean, succeeded him in his constituency.

His legacy has been dogged with controversy ever since, with the Moriarty Tribunal investigating a series of payments that he received from senior businessmen over an 18-year period. At one stage, he faced criminal charges for obstructing the work of the tribunal.

He was also found to have spent large sums of Fianna Fail money on Charvet shirts and dinners at the exclusive Le Coq Hardi restaurant in Dublin.

In May 1999 gossip columnist Terry Keane shocked the nation when she revealed on the Late Late Show that Haughey had conducted a 27-year relationship with her.

Fianna Fáil TDs GV Wright and Jim Glennon make a presentation to former Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey at a function in the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links in 2003 to thank him for his service over the years.