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Fintan O'Toole Haughey £1.1m

Fintan O'Toole

Last Saturday Irish Times finance guru Cliff Taylor posted an account of how the story about Ben Dunne bunging Charlie Haughey £1.1m was researched and published back in 1996. Taylor placed himself and his newspaper at the centre of this feat of investigative journalism.

He wrote: “First, in November 1996, the Irish Independent reported that Dunne had funded a house extension for then Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry, who later resigned and subsequently left the party.

“Shortly afterwards, the Irish Times reported that Dunne had also paid £1.1 million to a senior Fianna Fáil figure, later confirmed to be former taoiseach Charles Haughey.”

The Sunday Independent also published a report that weekend by Liam Collins claiming that “journalist Cliff Taylor finally broke the story of Haughey’s £1.1m gift from Dunne’s Stores”.

A day later (November 20), IT journalist Colm Keena regurgitated his newspaper’s line, ie “Cliff Taylor of the Irish Times reported that a senior Fianna Fáil politician had received £1 million (€1.27 million) from the supermarket magnate. It quickly became clear that the politician being referred to was the former taoiseach, the late Charles Haughey.”

In fact, as Sam Smyth said in his book, Thanks a million Big Fella, published the following year: “Phoenix magazine was first to name Haughey on 6 December, 1996.”

Surprisingly, after Goldhawk put the record straight for the paper of reference last week, Fintan O’Toole, normally a journalist who pays great attention to detail, wrote in next day’s IT: “Cliff Taylor eventually discovered, not just the payments to Haughey but the bank at the centre of the criminal tax evasion scheme through which they were routed.”

Fintan added that this and another story about Bishop Casey were both down to “excellent journalism”.

To repeat: Goldhawk “discovered” that Haughey had received a £1.1m payment from Dunne and published same on December 6, 1996, following which Taylor and others went on to discover the route by which such payments were made.

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