The funding of Charles James Haughey (1925-2006)

“Good old Charlie”, as those who saw Charles J Haughey as a bit of a scallywag rather than as a dishonest man who elected  to high office and abused the trust put in him by profiting from his position, “he is gone, but not quite forgotten!!!” Yes, the old devil never did get his comeuppance, but at least the truth about what he did, and the scale on which he did it, has begun come out.

Six months after his death at the age of 80, a tribunal report published today concluded that the former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charles Haughey took millions of pounds for favours during his time in and out of office. Haughey held the post of Taoiseach three times between 1979 and 1997. Actually, there is nothing new here – it merely confirms what people pretty much already knew.

The Tribunal, which, under the supervision of Mr. Justice Moriarity, began investigating Haughey in 1997, found that the ex-Taoiseach had accepted large amounts of money from businessmen which helped finance his very conspicuous lavish way of life, despite the fact that this was a time when the country was suffering some economic misery and a time when Mr. Haughey himself was urging Irish people be a little more frugal.

The report says has said: “Mr. Haughey lived a lifestyle and incurred expenditures vastly beyond the scale of the public service entitlements which were his sole apparent income.”

The report, which runs to 600 pages, estimates that Haughey had £9.1 million in funds made available to him between 1979 and 1996, and that this was over and above his income he had from public office and other businesses. The tribunal estimates that this would the equivalent of £30 million today.

The judge refused to accept claims by Mr. Haughey, given in evidence before his death, that he knew nothing about his finances as they had always been left solely in the hands of his late accountant, Desmond Traynor.

“The tribunal cannot accept the testimony given by Mr. Haughey to the effect that he knew virtually nothing of his financial arrangements and left these matters to Mr. Traynor,” the judge said.

 “Apart from the almost invariably secretive nature of payments from senior members of the business community, their very incidence and scale, particularly during difficult economic times nationally, and when governments led by Mr. Haughey were championing austerity, can only be said to have devalued the quality of a modern democracy,” the judge said.

One can only applaud m’lud and his tribunal for not pulling any punches and for not fearing to speak ill of the dead.

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