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Charles Haughey

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Charles J. Haughey was the sixth Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland. He headed governments from 1979 to 1981, in 1982, from 1987 to 1989, and finally from 1989 to 1992.

Haughey was one of the most controversial of Irish politicians. He started his political career with an embarrassing defeat in a by-election. However, in the 1957 General Election he was elected to Dáil Éireann. His first ministerial post was Parliamentary Secretary (junior minister) to the Minister for Justice, Oscar Traynor. Though Haughey was the son-in-law of then-party-leader and Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, Lemass urged Haughey to decline the offer, which was made by the cabinet. Haughey took the post anyway, ultimately replacing Traynor as Justice Minister, with a seat in cabinet in 1961.

Haughey proved to be perhaps the best Minister for Justice in Irish history, initiating a scale of legislative reform that was unparalleled, before or since. In 1964, when the Minister of Agriculture, Paddy Smith, resigned in a major row, Lemass moved Haughey to that department. His period as Agriculture Minister was less successful, however. In 1966, he served as President Eamon de Valera's director of elections in that month's presidential election. He convinced Telifís Éireann not to cover the campaign of the rival candidate, Fine Gael's Tom O'Higgins, on the basis that as de Valera wasn't campaigning, to cover O'Higgins would be unfair. However de Valera then got a high public profile as President and as the last survivor of the senior leaders of the Easter Rising during the 1966 Rising's fiftieth commemoration. However his campaign went badly wrong, with de Valera only scraping re-election by ten thousand votes out of a total poll of nearly one million. De Valera developed a negative view of Haughey, whom he distrusted and whom he told another minister some years later would destroy Fianna Fáil.

In 1966, Lemass resigned as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil seemed destined to have the first contested battle for the leadership, with possible candidates including Haughey, Neil Blaney, Paddy Hillery and George Colley. Hillery however wasn't interested, while Lemass talked most of the others out of contesting, proposing the Minister for Finance, Jack Lynch, as the compromise leader. Colley however declined to withdraw. Lynch was overewhelmingly elected leader. He appointed Haughey to his old post as Minister for Finance.

Again, Haughey showed a radical, reforming streak. Small scale initiatives caught the public imagination; free travel for Old Age Pensioners on public transport, tax-free status for artists. The late 1960s saw the appearance of violence on the streets of Northern Ireland . . . to be continued.

Media reports in May 2003 suggested that Haughey, who had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 1995 had suffered a major sudden decline in health. His son, Sean Haughey[?], TD flew back from abroad to join his family at Haughey's bedside in a Dublin hospital[?]. Family friends were quoted as suggesting that the family fear that Charles Haughey's death is imminent. Speculation has begun as to whether Haughey will be given a state funeral[?], as is the norm with former taoisigh, or whether, due to the allegations of improper behaviour leveled at him and which is currently being investigated by a tribunal of inquiry, he might be denied a state funeral. It is thought unlikely, notwithstanding the allegations made against him, that the Irish Government would deny him a traditional state funeral, though his family may decline the offer and opt for a private funeral.

Preceded by:
Jack Lynch
Taoiseach (1977-1979)
Prime Ministers of Ireland
Taoisigh na hÉireann
Succeeded by:
Garret FitzGerald
Taoiseach (1981-1982)
Preceded by:
Garret FitzGerald
Taoiseach (1981-1982)
Prime Ministers of Ireland
Taoisigh na hÉireann
Succeeded by:
Garret FitzGerald
Taoiseach (1982-1987)
Preceded by:
Garret FitzGerald
Taoiseach (1982-1987)
Prime Ministers of Ireland
Taoisigh na hÉireann
Succeeded by:
Albert Reynolds
Taoiseach (1992-1994)



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