Former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey acted as 'spy' for Provisional IRA, book claims

The book also claims that as Minister for Finance Haughey tapped the phone of then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, as the Arms Crisis was unfolding in 1970
Charlie Haughey got his face into Ireland’s sporting achievements

Charlie Haughey got his face into Ireland’s sporting achievements

Eamon Dillon

An explosive new book about disgraced former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey claims he was in direct contact with the leaders of the Provisional IRA during the 1970s.

The politician, who went on to lead Fianna Fail, was effectively an IRA informer, according to new book Political Betrayal by Kevin O'Connor.

O'Connor also claims that as Minister for Finance Haughey tapped the phone of his then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, as the Arms Crisis was unfolding in 1970.

The former political correspondent with the Sunday Independent pulls no punches in his account of Haughey's career, basing his 'spying' claims on memos from the Garda's Special Branch Unit.

It is suggested that not only was Haughey passing on information, he also warned the Special Branch were still getting information from inside the republican movement.

Terry Keane and Charlie Haughey had a long-standing affair

Terry Keane and Charlie Haughey had a long-standing affair

Because he was not in Cabinet at the time, Haughey explained he wasn't able to do anything for them but promised to pass on anything he heard about it, the book says.

Within months Haughey was back in government when Jack Lynch appointed him to the Department of Health.

In the late 1970s Haughey was back in contact with the Provo leadership, according to O'Connor.

This time, in a bid to protect the reputation of his scheme for tax-free status for artists, Haughey sought an assurance that best-selling author Frederick Forsyth would not become a kidnap target.

According to the secret memos, the Provos promised Haughey that the author of the Day of the Jackal, who was living in Wicklow at the time, would not be touched.

The Special Branch memos about Haughey's contacts with senior Provos showed his devious nature and willingness to play both sides for his own political aims, according to O'Connor.

Charlie Haughey

Charlie Haughey

But it wasn't just the Special Branch and Charlie Haughey tapping phones.

O'Connor says there is evidence that the Haughey cabinet meetings in 1988 were tapped by the British government.

The information came from the then American ambassador, Margaret Heckler to her friend, the late Foreign Minister Brian Lenihan.

O'Connor previously authored 'Sweetie' in which he revealed the long-standing affair Haughey had with journalist Terry Keane at a cost to the Irish taxpayer of €26,000 a month in wining, dining, presents and holidays.

The current book is a collection of new stories on former Taoiseach Haughey as well as the late Terry Keane.

O'Connor says that after speaking to several members of the Haughey Government, staff and colleagues, he believes he pocketed €70m during his career.

"Haughey betrayed the public trust and the nation and reaped a huge dividend for himself," O'Connor said.

In the book, a meeting between Haughey and controversial Fianna Fail TD, Liam Lawlor, is likened to a scene from The Sopranos.

The explosive book

The explosive book

When Lawlor suggests he might be going to join the Progressive Democrats, Haughey responds by demonstrating what information he could use to destroy his political reputation.

"It demonstrated how Haughey had a dossier on most of his parliamentary party and used it to maximise his power over them," said the author.

He also touches on the episode that did the most damage to Charlie Haughey when the Moriarty Tribunal found he had misappropriated €250,000 of the €336,000 raised for Brian Lenihan's liver transplant operation in the US.

Only €88,000 was needed for the man Haughey described as his "closest political friend" which allowed him lodge the rest to the leader's account.

Lenihan's attitude that Haughey should not have a mistress is also covered in the book when it says he pleaded with Haughey in 1979 to end the romance with Keane.

Haughey bluntly told him that it was none of his business.

While he says Haughey illegally pocketed more than €70 million, O'Connor gives full voice to his lasting political achievements from his time in office.

These include setting up the Financial Services Centre in Dublin, which now employs more than 44,000 people, including 10,000 employed outside the city.

It realises €1 billion in corporate taxes each year, with a further €1 billion going to the exchequer in payroll taxes, according to O'Connor.

He also credits Haughey with free travel for the elderly, while Temple Bar in Dublin was his initiative and it attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Haughey also backed Monsignor Horan and Knock Airport against the advice of the then coalition Government, which is now worth more than €40 million.

O'Connor argues Ireland has a world class equestrian industry after 40 years of Haughey's stallion-fee exemption tax and says he was the first Taoiseach to take arts, culture and the environment seriously.

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