Former Irish PM Haughey dies aged 80

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The Independent Online

The former Irish prime minister Charles Haughey died today after a long battle with cancer.

The 80-year-old died this morning at his beloved north Dublin home in Kinsealy with his family at his bedside.

His wife Maureen, daughter Eimear and his sons Conor, Ciaran and Fianna Fail TD Sean had been with him for the last few days.

Current Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern announced the former leader's death.

He said: "I have learned with great sadness of the death today of the former Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail, Mr Charles Haughey. It is a very sad occasion, and marks the passing of an era.

"On behalf of the Government and Fianna Fail, I wish to convey our deepest sympathies to his wife Maureen, his daughter Eimear, and his sons, Conor, Ciaran and Sean, as well as his wider family."

Mr Haughey's health had deteriorated significantly over the past few months as he fought prostate cancer and complications brought on by the disease, including secondary tumours and a heart condition.

He was also treated for pneumonia at Dublin's Mater Hospital in April.

He had been hospitalised several times but the lifelong politician had expressed his wish to spend his final hours at his Kinsealy home.

It is understood arrangements are being put in place for a State funeral for Mr Haughey, who served as Taoiseach three times, with a Mass to be held in his north Dublin constituency of Donnycarney.

Mr Ahern and members of the Government were kept up to date with Mr Haughey's condition in his final days.

Mr Ahern said Mr Haughey had made a huge impact on Irish life over a 35-year political career starting in the late 1950s, serving as Taoiseach three times.

"He served with distinction in every ministerial position that he held, and his many imaginative initiatives are remembered.

"He brought in most of the free schemes for the elderly, as well as generous pension increases between 1980 and 1982."

Mary Harney, leader of junior coalition government partner the Progressive Democrats, expressed her sympathies to Mr Haughey's family.

She said: "When Charles Haughey retired as Taoiseach in 1992, the government he had led had set the foundations for the historic achievements of our country since then, the peace process and our economic recovery.

"In particular, the success of Ireland's International Financial Services Centre is a living tribute to his boldness and determination. His legacy also includes the vibrancy of the arts in Ireland, and the excellence of the renovated Government Buildings."

Enda Kenny, leader of the main Irish Opposition party Fine Gael, paid his respects to "Charles Haughey the man: father, husband, grandfather, parliamentary colleague".

"I've known Charles Haughey throughout my political career and found him to be personally warm, engaging, thoughtful and courteous," he said.

"Obviously, Mr Haughey the politician will dominate news and commentary over the coming days, with public debate of numerous aspects of his political career, becoming his lot, perhaps, in perpetuity. In life, I believe Mr Haughey bore his humiliations with dignity and, no doubt, personal pain.

"Personally and on behalf of Fine Gael, I extend deep sympathy to Maureen, their children and to Mr Haughey's wider family and friends. On this day, especially, I'm sure there are many people in Ireland, who hope as I do, that for all of us, there will be kindness at the end."

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