Category: Archive

Charles J.Haughey 1925 – 2006

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The outline of Haughey’s life will be familiar to many Irish Americans. He was born in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1925; educated at St Joseph’s school in Fairview, Dublin, and at University College Dublin; studied law and accountancy; elected to the D_il in 1957 and every election from then until 1992; leader of Fianna F_il from 1979 to 1992; served three terms as Taoiseach.

Haughey’s impact on his country was immense. He defined Irish politics for a generation and, in effect, he molded modern Ireland, Celtic Tiger and all, to his vision.

It was Haughey who went on television to tell the Irish public “we are living beyond our means.” The budget he introduced was condemned as savage, uncaring and anti-society but all economists nowadays date the start of the Irish economic miracle to the moment Ray MacSharry stood up in the D_il as Minister for Finance to introduce it.

Without Haughey, the gleaming International Financial Services Center in Dublin would still be a dockside wasteland, the Industrial Development Authority’s focus on lower corporate tax and high-tech firms would not have been as sharp.

Temple Bar, which teems with overseas visitors, would be a bus depot. The National Treasury Management Agency would not exist, and as a consequence Ireland’s national debt would be far higher.

In Haughey, France’s then president Francois Mitterrand saw a reflection of his own grand statesman style. The two became friends, and Ireland had a powerful ally within the European Union when it came to negotiating the economically crucial Maastricht Treaty.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

Haughey’s vision went beyond prudent economics, however. He always stressed that he was “not running an economy, but a country,” and from his earliest days in government he introduced legislation designed to make a practical improvement in people’s lives.

His most significant law was the Succession Act, in 1965, which transformed the lot of Irish women, giving them rights to the family home on the death of their husbands.

He also introduced free public transport for all senior citizens, a move which combated the isolation of old age.

Haughey passed legislation that artists would not have to pay income tax on income derived from their creative activity, underscoring Ireland

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese