Haughey received last of Lemass IRA pension

Documents show Haughey received payment when Lemass’s widow died

Former taoiseach Seán Lemass: first received annual military pension of £99.16 in May 1943 while a minister in the wartime government of Éamon de Valera. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Former taoiseach Seán Lemass: first received annual military pension of £99.16 in May 1943 while a minister in the wartime government of Éamon de Valera. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 01:00


Charles Haughey was paid the outstanding money from the military pension of Seán Lemass’s widow Kathleen after she died.

Mrs Lemass received a pension from her husband’s military service after the former taoiseach died in 1971. When she, in turn, passed away on March 13th, 1985, her daughter Sheila O’Connor requested that all outstanding money be paid to the estate.

Haughey, who was married to Seán Lemass’s other daughter Maureen, was one of the executors of Kathleen Lemass’s will. In July 1985, Haughey was paid the outstanding amount of IR£62.96, the balance of the pension owed to Mrs Lemass’s estate, according to documents released by the military pensions archive.

The huge Military Pensions Archive was opened up last week on militaryarchives.ie and contains details of those who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, War of Independence and the Civil War.

Testimony
Lemass first received an annual pension of £99.16/5 in May 1943 while he was a minister in the wartime government of Éamon de Valera. In his testimony to the pensions board in 1942, Lemass appeared to underplay his role in the Rising saying he was only called up on Tuesday of Easter Week. In the hiatus between the Rising and the start of the War of Independence, Lemass said “there was no active military operation in that period except these occasional raids on private houses”.

He confirmed he was active during 1918 when the British government sought to impose conscription on an unwilling Irish public. “There was a lot of police work,” Lemass told the board, “my company had the most truculent part of the town to look after”.

He confirmed that he was in charge of one of the companies which assassinated British agents on Bloody Sunday, November 21st, 1920, though he did not elaborate.

In a corroborative letter, his commanding officer Frank Henderson said Lemass was “very young” in 1916 (he was 16). He was more active in the War of Independence, Henderson confirmed.

“Among his activities were the raiding parties of British officers for arms and numerous similar ‘jobs’. He was engaged on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in the execution of enemy intelligence officer at Lower Leeson Street,” he wrote.

According to a contemporary account from Matt MacDonald who was a member of the company, Lemass was one of those who shot dead Capt Geoffrey Baggallay in his bed on the morning of Bloody Sunday.

When he died Lemass had been paid an annual pension of £393.32. His widow was granted half his annual pension of £196.68 after her husband died.