Charlie’s people: who was who in the world of Charles Haughey

The real people behind the characters in ‘Charlie’, the TV drama based on the life of former taoiseach Charles Haughey

Brian Lenihan snr (above far right and, as played by Peter O'Meara, left) became a firm supporter of Charles Haughey when Haughey took over as Fianna Fáil leader. Many judge that the avuncular, popular Lenihan subsumed his own talents in favour of loyalty to Haughey. In 1990 Haughey fired Lenihan, to save his own skin, but later looted £200,000 from a fund to pay for a liver transplant for Lenihan.

Tony Gregory (above left, and as played Laurence Kinlan, right) was a left-wing community activist in north inner-city Dublin whose vote after the February election was critical to Haughey being elected taoiseach. "You know what I want," Haughey said on walking into Gregory's office. "What do you want?" Haughey promised Gregory a £100 million inner-city investment package.

Haughey appointed Seán Doherty (above left, and as played by Gavin O'Connor, right), a former special branch garda , as justice minister in 1982. Doherty transferred a sergeant who had irked him, and arranged to tap the phones of the journalists Geraldine Kennedy and Bruce Arnold. In 1992 Doherty's revelation that Haughey had ordered the tapping ended Haughey's career. Doherty died in 2005.

The Kildare TD Charlie McCreevy (above left and, as played by Rory Nolan, right) was a Haughey supporter initially, but his fervour diminished in 1982. In October he called for Haughey to resign. In a confidence vote 58 Fianna Fáil TDs backed Haughey's leadership; 22 voted against. After the vote Haughey loyalists jostled McCreevy, shouting "Blueshirt" and "Judas".


Ray MacSharry (above left and as played by Edward MacLiam, right) was a Sligo-based TD and Haughey loyalist. In 1982 he was Haughey's minister for finance. In October Seán Doherty borrowed bugging equipment from the Garda intelligence branch. MacSharry used it secretly to record a conversation with Martin O'Donoghue, who supported a heave against Haughey.

George Colley (above left and, as played by Peter Gowan, right) , Haughey's chief internal rival in the Fianna Fáil party, was not a minister in Haughey's 1982 government after Haughey refused him a veto, given in 1979, over who would be ministers for justice and defence, so clearing the way for Doherty. Loathed by Haughey, he died, at 59, in 1983.

Terry Keane (above left and, as played by Lucy Cohu, right) had become Haughey's mistress before he took over as Fianna Fáil leader; she remained so throughout the 1980s, referring to him as "Sweetie" in her Sunday Independent gossip column. In private she was more explicit, defending him with contemptuous rebuttal of doubters and critics. She died in 2008.

The accountant Des Traynor (above left and, played by Frankie McCafferty, right) continued as Haughey's bagman, illegally funnelling money to him from offshore accounts and orchestrating many of his corrupt dealings with businesspeople. He died in May 1994.

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh

Peter Murtagh is a contributor to The Irish Times