By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Former Taoiseach Charles Haughey would have regarded a gift of a million pounds from a prominent businessman as his by right and it would be like the "three Wise Men putting gold, frankincense and myrrh in front of the Savior," according to his mistress of 27 years, Terry Keane.
Keane, who’s 59, denied that she had been aware that Haughey, 73, had money problems and was getting cash from people.
"The only time he ever said he was broke was always a couple of weeks before my birthday," she said. "Charlie always said he was broke just at the beginning of September.
"If Ben Dunne gave all this money, the only thing that he seemed to get out of it was that he was invited to a few parties at Abbeyville [Haughey’s residence] and a few of the children’s weddings. If anybody is foolish enough to give a million pounds to be included in someone’s social circle, then that is up to them."
Keane said Haughey would feel no obligation to do anything in return for cash gifts.
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"They are not going to find any corruption, I’m convinced of that," she told the "Marion Finucane Show" on RTE. "Businessmen had a vested interest in making sure that Charlie Haughey had no problems about money in his own life, so that he could go out, eyeball people, turn this country around and make it the economical, viable, fast-growing country that it is today."
Keane may be called as a witness in the Moriarty Tribunal, which is probing payments to Haughey during his career in politics.
She said her debts as a result of joining a Lloyds of London insurance syndicate were £700,000 and had never been paid off by Haughey.
"It is still hanging over me," she said. "Charlie Haughey has never paid a bill for me in his life. Neither would a wish him to. If I was a kept woman, I would hardly be working, would I?"
She also denied he had bought her a mink coat or sent Christmas hampers to her. "I packed hampers for him when I was so broke. He wanted to send Christmas hampers out to his constituents and I packed hampers on one or two Christmases, loads of them, to make a few bob so that I would be able to have Christmas."
Haughey disapproved of the timing of her revelations, but she claimed
he had always known she intended to write a book.
The fact that another book about their relationship was planned had prompted her to go public now.
"I am a very impetuous, confrontational sort of person," Keane said. "He isn’t. He believes in never explain, never complain."
Much of the adverse comment has surrounded pictures accompanying the articles, in particular a color photograph across all eight columns of Haughey kissing her on the floor.
"I am not happy about the visual accompaniment," Keane said. "We were under great pressure. I grabbed a lot of photographs which I should have then gone through and considered the difference between having them in my hand and seeing them actually printed in a newspaper. I deeply regret that."
She said her former employers, the Independent group, had betrayed her and had written what she described as "the most dreadful filth and lies" about her.
She was not like she was depicted in her gossip column — a femme fatale cross between Joan Collins and Cruella deVille.
She said she was surprised by the way her revelations were received.
"Naively, I didn’t expect such a shockwave reaction," Keane said.
She added she was getting grief "in buckets" since she went public.
She denied reports that she was getting £600,000 for the four-week Sunday Times serialization of her memoirs, providing pictures and writing a column for the paper. She said she was getting £16,000 for each of the four installments.