Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Haughey Parts I and II

The second episode of the Charles Haughey documentary was on RTE last night. Before it started I had the apartment to myself so I settled down and finally watched the first episode on video. The first episode was good and provided information on his early life, nothing too scandalous.

Then came the second episode. Now I grew up in a Fianna Fail family, hell, one of my relatives is actually interviewed in the documentary, so I had a fair idea of events from the inside. I was not born for most of the first two episodes and even the later parts I would have been too young to remember them myself but I was told about them years later. Last nights episode completely glossed over really important issues. Issues that could have provided insights into how Charlie operated, how he controlled powerful people and how he got ordinary people to follow him with blind devotion.

The two most important topics that were skimmed over were how he got back into cabinet after the arms trial and how he organised the backbench revolt that finally finished off Lynch. Instead of a revealing insight into the workings of the Fianna Fail party the documentary makers just repeated information that is probably on the Leaving Certificate Pass History course by now.

How did Haughey get back into the cabinet? Lynch was no fool, he knew what Haughey was planning. He wouldn't have had Haughey back without a good reason. There are stories and legends, but none of them are repeatable here since they are probably not true. But perhaps the documentary makers could have asked more questions, probed more, spoken to more of Haugheys opponents at the time? Instead they just said it was a strange decision and moved on as quickly as possible.

They did focus on the party grassroots functions Haughey attended and made it appear that Haugheys ability to eat chicken and chips earned him the highest office in the land. Crap! It takes more than a simple visit by "yet another TD" to get a Fianna Fail Cumman behind a leadership candidate. When he did win them over the grassroots loved him, but that was only one part of the plot. The grassroots don't vote for the leader of the party, the Dail deputies do. He got the backing of Dail Deputies, promises were made, deals struck. What were they? Who were the big winners and who were the big loosers? Which ones were betrayed? What did he do to those who were against him? Certainly the public is none the wiser after last nights episode.

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