It may seem bizarre to many that Garret Fitzgerald could write in great detail about his long political career without mentioning, never mind actually analysing, the corruption of Charles Haughey.
But there is in fact a very simple reason.
The criminal Haughey was a member of the same ruling elite club as Garret Fitzgerald.
Members of this exclusive club instinctively know that they must stand by each other if they are to survive as the ruling elite.
So while it is perfectly acceptable to play the game of politics, slagging each off in the Dail, hotly debating issues through the media, it is totally unacceptable for club members to call into question the right to rule pedigree of any member by accusing them of criminal or corrupt practices.
In December 1979 when the criminal Haughey came to power Fitzgerald rightly referred to him as a flawed pedigree
Fitzgerald realised immediately that he had overstepped the mark, that he had offended the sensibilities of the ruling elite who were all present for the nomination of Haughey as Taoiseach (See here for my view of this incident).
Thereafter, and for the rest of his long career, Fitzgerald constantly apologised/explained this insult to a member of the ruling elite club.
In his book, Just Garret (page 288) he once again tries to explain away his (totally accurate) assessment of Haughey’s real character.
The phrase ‘flawed pedigree’, an oratorical embellishment that must have owed something to the hour of the night at which I had finally drafted my remarks, achieved lasting fame.
I should of course have recognised the danger of using a colourful phrase that could easily be distorted by being taken completely out of the specific context of a comparison between Charles Haughey’s and his predecessors’ repute among their peers (my emphasis).
Fitzgerald tells another story that confirms how the ruling elite support each other and gives us a hint of how some in the media are more than willing to cooperate with protecting the interests of the ruling elite.
In 1983 Labour leader and then Tánaiste Dick Spring had a bit of a row with Haughey at a meeting of the New Ireland Forum.
Haughey became so upset that he had to be escorted from the room.
It later transpired that earlier on the same day a biographical book, The Boss, had been published which greatly upset Haughey and his family.
Fitzgerald’s response to this incident is incredible and bizarre when we consider that he had already accurately described Haughey as a flawed pedigree.
In other words he knew that Haughey was nothing more than a political gangster.
The publication of The Boss which outlined in great detail the corrupt activities of Haughey in the short three-year period since becoming leader of Fianna Fail confirmed in black and white Fitzgerald’s flawed pedigree assessment of the criminal.
To avoid being accused of quoting Fitzgerald out of context I include his full response in his own words.
The Forum was immediately adjourned, and Dick Spring made his peace with Charles Haughey.
But following the afternoon session, I realised that I had earlier responded to a query from Vincent Browne, editor of the Sunday Tribune, about my Christmas reading, saying that The Boss was something that I would want to read during the break.
I then found that Dick Spring had also mentioned the book to Vincent in this way.
I rang Vincent, who I found already knew what had happened that morning, and he agreed not to publicise the traumatic event in the Forum and to substitute other works in place of The Boss on my list, and in Dick’s.
So here we had the Prime Minister and his deputy going to great lengths, with the willing cooperation of a journalist, to minimise the impact of an accurate account of Haughey’s corrupt activities.
The response by Fitzgerald and Spring is a perfect example of how members of the ruling class, first and foremost, look after each other.
That elitist political mindset is still the guiding force in the body politic today.