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What is Haughey's Legacy?

category national | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Wednesday December 20, 2006 01:56author by deselby Report this post to the editors

In light of the Moriarty Tribunal report into payments made to Charles J. Haughey, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the career and influence of one of the most controversial politicians - some would say the most controversial politian - that Ireland has ever seen. We now have a clearer, almost forensic, understanding of what Haughey gained from public office, but what about the balance to that? What did he give to the Irish people? What did he leave behind? What is his true legacy?

On 11 February 1992, Charles J. Haughey stood up in the Dáil and gave his own political epithet. 'This is not the time to outline any special list of claims or achievements,' he said. 'Let the record speak for itself. If I were to seek any accolade as I leave office it would simply be: he served the people, all the people, to the best of his ability.' The former Taoiseach praised his party, civil servants, the opposition, and the character of the Irish people on what was his final, significant day in the Dáil. He had been a sitting TD for 35 years. Earlier in his speech he had quoted Othello: 'I have done the state some service. They know't. No more of That.'

contrary to popular belief, Haughey did not invent Irish political corruption - any decent study of the Irish land commission in the 1930s would soon put paid to that assumption - but he was by far its great proponent. Defenders of Haughey constantly refer to him as the true father of both the Celtic Tiger and the Irish Peace Process. But how accurate are this assertions? Was he the true savior of Ireland, albeit with a 'flawed pedigree'? Or will be remembered as the man who stole his best friend's liver money?

I feel that Haughey, on balance,was a disaster for the country and for his party. I believe that he destroyed any talent within Fianna Fáil that did not conform to his interests and those of his backers. He decimated the left-wing element within Fianna Fáil and alligned that party forever with big business and vested interests. He was the master of the simple gesture - the travel pass, butter vouchers, and artist tax-breaks - that promoted the illusion of Fianna Fáil as firmly rooted with the working-class and small farmer. On an economic level, Ireland's economic recovery had as much to do with the Fine Gael/ Labour government of 1982-87 than with the minority Haughey government of 87-9 and PD coalition of 89-92- governments that wisely decided to continue those policies. His greatest legacy, however, lies in the fact that the overwhelming belief that Irish politicians are easily bought. Not only that, they must be bought before anything can happen.

On the issue of the North, however, I am not so sure. I'll leave that to others more qualified to flesh out and debate. but even on the points I have raised, I do so in order to give a side to either agree with or amend, or reject altogether. I do believe Haughey was a disaster, but let's hear the other side.

Related Link: http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0415/D.0415.199202110002.html
author by John mcDermott - removefiannafailpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 01:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A graverobbers tale.No honour among scoundrels
What we all knew is now public record.Let it stand as a tablet of stone to remind us that the truth cannot be buried with villians.And the bluster and defiance of those who defend the indefensible stands for naught. Dust in the wind.
Decent people must now stand and be counted, wherever they are or in whatever walk of life the be, they must exercise their influence to bring the Fianna Fail regime to an and but only on the basis that any parties who would greedily take their place, become answerable to the people.The vast majority of decent citizens who abhorr all that Haughey, and Ahern , and Cowan, stand for.

Its official: C.J.H. stole Lenehans hospital fund.
Its official: C.J.H. stole Lenehans hospital fund.

Related Link: http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org/corruption.htm
author by Shanerpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 13:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Probably with the notable exception of the likes of Vincent Browne, Magill and Phoenix the rest of the press corps were happily embedded in the ranks of gormless CJ adulation while he sucked the blood out of all of us.

Fancy some fava beans with a nice bottle of Chianti, Brian?
Fancy some fava beans with a nice bottle of Chianti, Brian?

author by Outsiderpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 13:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Haughey went into government with moderate means and came out rich as Croesus, none of it gained through honest hard work. His family and his associates are living off dishonest earnings while his children running businesses with illegitimate foundations. What about all the LIVING corrupt individuals who built massive business interests under his patronage, all the LIVING civil servant millionaires running property empires, all the LIVING politicians continuing their self-serving careers as if nothing has happened? Is anyone going to name those who got rich under Haughey and let them explain (the quite possibly honest) means their wealth was created?

author by iosafpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 14:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Though there have been a few, they merely seem to prove the rule - people enter politics for one of 4 stated reasons (social conviction / national belief / religious fervour / their mammy & daddy set them up for it from an early age). I think (rather paradoxically) that it's both too late & too early to judge Haughey's legacy. It's too late in the sense that the confirmation of financial wrong-doing had no visible or tangible effect on either the family or party & too early in the sense that we must wait a long time to learn more about wider national political issues which shaped the island's recent history & set the course many would argue we are still following with only slight variations (yet much exagerated in importance) on Anglo-Irish relations. A good time to judge part of that legacy will the imminent ( oh it is! ) death of Thatcher or the other half of Eire's "taoiseachness" in that period Garret FitzGerald. Without wishing the stuttering doctor of economics ill health - but I wonder will FitzG get a state funeral? whilst we all know Thatcher will get the whole deal - fireworks, riots, parties on the street, Queen in black, shock revelations & leaked dossiers..,

author by Ousiderpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 15:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How much money did Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins / Hyperion Press give Cecelia Ahern in an upfront advance for "PS, I Love You"? ("$1 Million + for the 22-year-old daughter of Ireland's Prime Minister" according to Amazon) How much profit have they recouped from the book? What was exclusive Irish sporting coverage worth to Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television? How much money have they recouped since the effective destruction of Chorus and NTL's Irish subscriber base, and their now 70 per cent of Irish viewers? And what commitment did they demonstrate, other than income, in cancelling Sky News Ireland?

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Wed Dec 20, 2006 20:39author email sylfredcar at iolfree dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well may we laugh, but we as a nation permitted Haughey to exist; we shut up, we voted, we knew. Our artists and writers lapped at his heels, bought by a crumb and a wink, praising him, comparing him to a mythical hero. He had some of them well sorted, he knew them as he knew some of the politicos and journos who surrounded him.
In the midst of revelation after revelation about Haughey pouring from Dublin Castle, poor men, out of work dockers and farmers, told me how great a man Charlie was. We had a quaint philosophy - better to be screwed by someone you know than by the invidious Brit! We were proud of him, in our perversity. And he still has his apologists. (By the way, weren't the Lenihan medical expenses, at Charlie's order, paid in the end by the VHI?)
We called ourselves cultured and quoted Joyce to back up our assertion - we thought it was cultured for our Taoiseach to buy shirts in Paris. Our painters, playwrights, poets, novelists, sculptors queued up to be with Charlie, 'The Squire,' 'The Boss'. He tossed us the scrapings from his paid-for table and we blessed him for his benificence. He wished to create an artists' academy and he ended up with Aosdána; voiceless, gestureless, impotent socially and politically, but good enough as a pension fund. He mocked the Irish passport, the very notion of patriotism and citizenship. As for the FF party money . . . . .Fianna Fáil were terrified to ask for any of it back in case other stones would be lifted and equally crawly things emerge. They still are. And yet there were those who called him still a patriot!
Yet we would deserve his like again. Until we raise our voices against corruption in politics, even of the least sort and in the least government or council office, we will be paving the way, giving the nod, to new Haugheys and those who would make Ireland a true green banana republic. Writers and other artists have a civic duty to ask questions and to make nuisances of themselves - they are not entitled to crawl, bowl in hand, to the first cheaply-baubled hand extended to them. We should disown such writers, such artists. We should write letters, pose queries, attend Council meetings, learn to write and protest unafraid to our politicians - after all, they owe US their jobs.
We should stop being thick and easily manipulable Paddies, doffing caps every time a black Merc drives past, transmuting our ancient reverence for the clergy into a reverence for politicians. We should DEMAND that any politician, at any level, who is accused of any misdemeanour, stop down while any investigation proceeds and resign immediately if found guilty.
Can we restore ourselves to ourselves? Can we be proud again? After such naivété, can there ever be wisdom?

author by Deirdre Clancy - AWI (personal capacity)publication date Fri Dec 22, 2006 01:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I heard Paul Durcan read a poem on the Pat Kenny show one morning a few years ago; it was a tribute poem to Haughey, and listed his many charms and wonderful attributes, including his generosity (presumably, his generosity with ill-gotten gains, while the rest of the country was tightening its belt and emigrating).

What is wrong with the artistic establishment in Ireland? Artists are supposed to rock the boat. It's one of their various functions. If they simply mirror back the more unreconstructed aspects of society (such as that aspect of Ireland which says, 'Ah sure, but wasn't he a great man all the same') it just makes those aspects more deeply entrenched by validating them.

No wonder James Joyce left the country. He saw it too clearly.

author by Joepublication date Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well for me his legacy iis that I will never vote for Fianna Fail. When I was surviving on IR£40 a week he was spending hundreds on fancy French shirts. I wouldn't pi** on his grave.

author by historianpublication date Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Durcan got a few bob from him, that's why he likes him. Same man that wrote drivel condemning people like Bobby Sands. Neither of them fit to tie his boots.

author by starkadderpublication date Tue Apr 24, 2007 21:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Haughey also supported the catholic conservatives during the abortion and divorce referenda, while hypocritically having an adulterous affair with Terry Keane.

author by starkadderpublication date Thu Jun 28, 2007 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Haughey, with his pro-business attitude and his hypocritical Victorian moralism, was of the same type as Thatcher and Reagan. He belongs in Pink Floyd's "Fletcher Memorial Home" with the other
"tyrants and kings".

author by Queen B'spublication date Thu Jun 28, 2007 20:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

B ree B ertie B ush B liar B everly B ill & B B C B ecks (not posh) B ono
Thr question is what have them all got in common? Sports shops!

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