Monday 11 December 2017

Haughey was dictator in making: civil servant


THE LATE Charles Haughey (pictured) was a dictator in the making, according to an Enniscorthy born civil servant who worked in the Department of Justice.

Jim Kirby, now aged 77, was principal officer in the Department in the early eighties when Mr. Haughey was Taoiseach and the modus operandi of the controversial politician disturbed the man from Friary Hill.

'I shudder to think if Haughey had been re-elected in 1982,' Jim Kirby told the 'Irish Times'. 'We would have been virtually in a dictatorship.' The retired bureaucrat has released parts of the diary that he kept during the time when the telephones of several journalists were tapped.

He was particularly concerned that the Taoiseach of the time thought nothing of asking Gardaí to carry out tasks inspired by political motives rather than the pursuit of justice. The Wexford man was close to the levers of power in his role as principal officer in the security section of the Department where he queried the phone taps on Bruce Arnold and Geraldine Kennedy, to no avail. He finished his career in the prisons section and then took early retirement in 1988 rather than face the prospect of working with another Fianna Fáil administration. Born at Friary Hill, he and his family later moved to St. John's Villas. He was a student at Enniscorthy CBS before starting his career as a civil servant in 1954 at the Land Registry.

He has a brother Billy, who lives in Limerick, and two Dublin resident sisters, Marie and Anne. He insists that his background is strictly non-party.

However, his experiences in work prompted him to join Fine Gael after he left the civil service. He was on the staff of John Bruton for several months and later acted as a volunteer researcher for Gay Mitchell when the TD was party spokesman on justice.

He lives in Dublin and remains trenchantly critical of Charles Haughey, whose short lived 1982 administration spawned the acronym GUBU – grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented.

'As Taoiseach, he thought he was monarch of all he surveyed,' Jim Kirby reflected in his press interview. 'He controlled the police to a huge extent. He liked to contact middle ranking civil servants... and if they were not prepared to do the things he wanted them to do, they were effectively sidelined.'

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