O’Malley ‘can’t help it’ if forthcoming political memoir causes offence

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Former Minister for Justice Des O'Malley at City Hall on Tuesday night, pointing to a picture of himself which appeared in the Leader back in 1971
FORMER minister and Progressive Democrats founder Des O’Malley says he “can’t help it” if the family of Charles Haughey or others get upset over his forthcoming memoir, Conduct Unbecoming.

FORMER minister and Progressive Democrats founder Des O’Malley says he “can’t help it” if the family of Charles Haughey or others get upset over his forthcoming memoir, Conduct Unbecoming.

The title is taken from the controversy in 1985 when Mr O’Malley was expelled from Fianna Fail for his support for a moderate relaxation in contraception laws by Garret FitzGerald’s Fine Gael government.

After delivering his famous “I stand by the Republic” speech in the Dail, Mr O’Malley was cast out of Fianna Fail for “conduct unbecoming”.

“That’s what I was found guilty of,” said Mr O’Malley, 79, adding the title was “something that occurred to me about 20 years ago”.

Typical of the man, Mr O’Malley saw no need to draft in a ghost writer for the keenly anticipated memoir and every line comes from his own pen.

“The latter part of it was only written only in the last year or so but I had written a fair share of it about 10 years ago and then I kind of lost interest, if you like, when I went to live and work in London for three years. That brought that to an end. But I started it again about 18 months ago,” he said.

Asked if he was happy with the end product, Mr O’Malley replied in a manner which suggests the memoir will pull no punches on the political controversies of the 70s, 80s and 90s in which he was so central a figure: “You couldn’t be happy with a book like that. There will be a lot of people who won’t be too happy with it, I’m sure. Sure, I’m used to that – or at least I used to be used to it. I’m not sure I am any more,” he said.

He conceded that it may cause some upset to relatives and supporters of the former Taoiseach, the late Charles Haughey, with whom he clashed so bitterly from the time of the Arms Trial, through the leadership heave against Jack Lynch to the formation of the PDs and beyond.

“Oh they might but sure I can’t help that,” Mr O’Malley said on whether the book might ruffle some feathers in the Haughey camp.

He had no comment to make, meanwhile, on a claim made by TK Whitaker in his biography that Haughey had to skip delivering his budget speech in 1970 – when Mr O’Malley was Minister for Justice – because he had been assaulted in a Dublin pub with an iron bar earlier that day.The Haughey family has vigorously rejected as untrue the claims of Dr Whitaker – a former secretary general of the Department of Finance and described by many as the father of modern Ireland – asserting Mr Haughey’s injuries instead arose from a riding accident, as had been the explanation at the time.

Mr O’Malley was in the city to launch an exhibition of Limerick Leader photographs from the 1970s – From Limerick With Love, with responses from LSAD students – which runs at City Hall until December.

Conduct Unbecoming: A Memoir will be published by Gill & Macmillan next month.