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'Rough' Haughey warning

Declassified: The 1987 files

By Staff Reporter

Published 21/08/2015

Northern Ireland's decision-makers were warned to expect a rough ride when Charles Haughey became Taoiseach.

A series of memos, entitled 'Handling Mr Haughey', were issued ahead of the 1987 Irish general election. They predicted that his Fianna Fail party was on course to seize power.

A memo sent in January that year warned: "While with Mr Haughey the ride will be rougher and a number of issues (not only Northern Ireland) will be treated more toughly, he would be unlikely to do anything so unpopular and retrograde as to denounce the (Anglo-Irish) Agreement."

Another memo states: "We expect Mr Haughey's style to be rougher than that of the present Irish administration. The arrival of Mr Haughey as Taoiseach would undoubtedly create problems."

It states: "The going would be harder than with his predecessor", Dr Garret FitzGerald.

Haughey went on to lead a minority Fianna Fail government. It was the first of three terms he served as Taoiseach between 1979 and 1992.

For almost 30 years, Haughey, a complex character, was the central and most controversial figure in Irish public life.

He had a notoriously difficult association with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. One diplomat described it as a "love-hate relationship".

• Anglo-Irish diplomacy

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