27 July 2000 Edition

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Haughey wriggles on the hook

It is unclear what the actual end value of the two ongoing tribunals at Dublin Castle will be. Some political careers have foundered, some more will definitely follow and the public have been left with a remarkable insight into political life in the 26 Counties. The chances of anyone being sent to jail seems at best remote. However there are still some highlights to savour and this weeks examination of Charlie Haughey's financial dealings are a case in point.

It has become well known that Haughey received at least £8.5 million in `gifts' over his later years in office. Now he is in the witness box at the Moriarty tribunal to shed some light on these years.

Memo's from the AIB describe Haughey as being ``quite vicious'' and ``quite troublesome''. AIB believed Haughey was ``quite irresponsible in money matters'' and that he was making ``empty promises''.

Because of Haughey's age and medical condition, he is being questioned for two hour periods every day. The first conflict in evidence offered by Haughey stems from his assertion that Des Traynor managed his personal finacnces from 1960.

This did not stop Haughey from dealing with AIB over unpaid six figure bank loans or receiving huge sums personally from donors. At one stage in 1975 Haughey who had an income of £7,000 was £400,000 in debt. Haughey warned AIB that he could become a ``troublesome adversary''.

Also appearing at the Tribunal were Ben Dunne and Michael Smurift who were explaining the background to gifts they gave to Haughey. Ben Dunne we are to believe was in a haze of pain killers when he handed over a five figure sum to Haughey. Smurfit decided ``on the spur of the moment'' to give Haughey a Jack B Yeats painting worth £55,000.

This is all good fun but it points up once again the golden circle of favours and gifts that Haughey presided over. While it is nice to see Haughey finally asked to explain his actions when will he be made account for them?

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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