Haughey's private navy

Sometime in the late 1980s, a sailor in the Irish Naval Service listened in astonishment to a news report in which the Dept of Defence officially denied that Irish naval ships were sent to ‘guard’ Charlie Haughey while he entertained on his private Island, Inishvickillane.

The Irish Navy carries out two and three week patrols around the Irish coast. Before departing on patrol, a ship will be given a Sailing Order outlining areas to be patrolled and specific missions to be achieved.

This is a broad instruction and is open to change depending on changing circumstances. These circumstances could include proceeding to a vessel in distress, reports of illegal fishing or even investigating illegal arms or drug smuggling. These missions were all part of life for a serviceman at sea and were accepted as part of the job. However, there was one mission that always caused deep resentment within the ranks of naval servicemen – being used by Haughey as a private resource for services and entertainment.

Having a State vessel at his private disposal was, no doubt, a great boost to Haughey’s ego. Friends and guests would be brought on board for a tour and entertained with food and drink at the States expense. Other services were also provided. For example, naval divers would install and maintain moorings at the island.

These ‘secret missions’ to entertain Haughey invariably occurred on long holiday weekends. They never formed part of the sailing order. A radio signal from Naval HQ, usually received a day or two before a patrol was due to end, would instruct the vessel to proceed to Inishvickillane.

Last minute instructions like these were necessary for secrecy and to prevent servicemen, who should have been relaxing at home with their families after a grueling three weeks patrol in the Atlantic, from venting their anger.

Obviously, at this time in the late 80s a serviceman or family member had had enough and complained to a media source – hence the official denial from the Dept of Defence Press Office.

How do I know all this in such detail? I was that sailor listening in astonishment to the official denial.

5 thoughts on “Haughey's private navy”

  1. Anthony:

    Excellent read … [Sorry you went through that]. I have to admit I’m rather ignorant on this Haughey fellow but I have been getting a good education since his death. As you’re aware such arrogance exists here in the states [probably on a larger scale] but hearing such testimony from one directly involved gives it a whole different perspective. I would hope this post underscores the
    need for the average citizen to be aware of our elected officials exploiting such important resources. Could one argue these self centered actions could be viewed as a breach of national security?
    I appreciated your justifed astonishment and thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. The official denial is inline with current and past practice surrounding the security arrangements for the State’s VIPs. Similar arrangements exist for almost all head’s of state and government.

  3. Dear Anthony
    I came across your article about Haughey while surfing through the net. This does not surprise me in the least. Nothing that Haughey got up to comes as a shock, he must have been a one man Mafia, making the God Father look like a charity worker?

    I am one of the many thousands who emigrated from Ireland in the 1980, this I believe was mainly down to the misuse of funds by Haughey. No doubth there were other factors, but if one took away the Haughey effect then things might have been just that bit better.

    Anyway good to read your short account of the Official Denial.

    The reason that I was surfing is to try and track down data on the three Irish Flower Class Corvettes c.1946-71. Did you serve on these ships? Any photos, data, and rebuild drawings, or contacts that can be of help with this will be most gratefully received. Did you serve on any of these ships?

    I am about to start building the Revell Kit 1/72 scale, this is going to represent one of the three Irish ships.

    In anticipatioin
    I remain yours
    Patrick O’Sullivan

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