Politicians pay respects to 'the boss' at Haughey home

Dignitaries and old allies of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, who died yesterday, visited his north Dublin home today to pay their respects.

Dignitaries and old allies of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, who died yesterday, visited his north Dublin home today to pay their respects.

As members of the public signed books of condolence in the capital and Cork, Government ministers, retired and serving politicians, neighbours and friends arrived at the Abbeville estate in Kinsealy.

Among those to visit the Haughey family were current Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume.

Ray McSharry, a close ally and former Minister for Finance in the Haughey government of 1987 which helped create Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy, was also at the house.

Visibly upset, Mr McSharry said: “I’m sad to be leaving here, having spent so many years working with him as a public representative, and he was a very good public representative, a very good minister, a very good Taoiseach. He did a lot of very good things for the country.

“His private and personal life were a matter for himself and there were controversial issues there, but nobody can take from him the good he did for the country.”

Flags flew at half-mast on all public buildings as final preparations were put in place for one of the largest state funerals the country has ever seen.

Father Peter Finnerty, parish priest at Our Lady of Consolation, Donnycarney, where requiem Mass will be held, said the church would be in peak condition for the service.

“We were working round the clock here and as I already said to the Haugheys, we are going to give Mr Haughey a good send-off,” the priest said.

The Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, Mr Haughey’s brother Fr Owen and Monsignor Joseph Quinn of Knock.

Mr Haughey died aged 80 at his beloved Abbeville home with his family at his side after a long battle against cancer.

Books of condolence were opened at Government Buildings, Dublin Castle, the Mansion House and city halls in Dublin and Cork with many simple messages reading “Rest in Peace” and “Thank you”.

Mr Ahern visited the Haugheys at the family home before signing the book at Fianna Fáil headquarters.

Scores of people arrived at the Mansion House after Dublin’s Lord Mayor Catherine Byrne opened the book with a note offering her thoughts and prayers to the Haughey family.

People from as far afield as Kerry, Roscommon and Ballymena, Co Antrim signed their names.

Patrick Doherty, from Mr Haughey’s old north Dublin constituency, travelled into town to sign the book at the Mansion House.

“Thirty-five years of long service and he was ‘The Boss’. He was the father of all of them. He’s ‘The Boss’,” he said.

Mr Haughey’s remains will be brought to Our Lady of Consolation mortuary chapel tomorrow morning where he will lie in state with members of the public able to file past the open coffin throughout the day.

The body will be moved into the main section of the church in the evening where the public will be allowed to pay their respects until midnight.

The state funeral will take place at noon on Friday with a large section of the church reserved for politicians and dignitaries although Fr Finnerty insisted parishioners are welcome to attend.

Mr Ahern, who will deliver the graveside oration at St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton, will miss the quarterly meeting of EU leaders in Brussels to attend the funeral. President Mary McAleese has cut short a visit to southern Africa to be there.

Among those to sign books of condolence were Fianna Fáil TDs, civil servants, diplomats and ordinary people who knew Mr Haughey.

Brid Myers from Athy, who met the former Taoiseach once, signed the book at the Mansion House and recalled his appeal.

“He was charming. I think all the women loved Charlie,” she said.

“(There is) admiration of his absolute talent, obviously a very intelligent man … and was certainly well up to the task.

“I’m disappointed in the revelations after the fact of course, but on a day like today it is all fond memories, condolences and sympathies to his family and I would hope that he would be remembered for the good things that he did.”

Declan Doran, from Ballyfermot, who was chauffeur for Mr Haughey’s son Sean when he was Lord Mayor, praised the former leader’s character.

“He was a very, very nice man, very human, approachable and no matter where he met you, once he did he would always remember,” Mr Doran said.

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