PDs gather for Des O’Malley book launch

Pat Rabbitte says memoir dealt with Haughey’s leadership of Fianna Fáil and setting up of the PDs

Former PD leader Des O’Malley with Mary Harney at the launch of his memoir Conduct Unbecoming in the Mansion House in Dublin last night. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Former PD leader Des O’Malley with Mary Harney at the launch of his memoir Conduct Unbecoming in the Mansion House in Dublin last night. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The Progressive Democrats held their Christmas Party in Dublin’s Mansion House last night. Sort of.

A galaxy of luminaries from the former political party was in attendance, including its three former leaders, Michael McDowell, Mary Harney and founder leader Des O’Malley, who also used the occasion to launch his memoir, Conduct Unbecoming.

There too were former PD TDs Liz O’Donnell, Tom Parlon and Bobby Molloy, and the party’s former PR supremo, Stephen O’Byrnes. Lucinda Creighton, the former Fine Gael TD in search of a party, was also in attendance.

Surveying the perhaps 300 people crowded into the Oak Room for the occasion, former Labour Party minister Pat Rabbitte remarked that he “never knew there were so many PDs still around”, a quip that fairly much brought the house down.

It was but one of several in a launch speech notable for its wit and the clear affection between the two former political adversaries.

Turning to Mr O’Malley’s tome, he said it was a privilege to launch “a significant book by a formidable politician from a remarkable period in our history”.

Stood out

The book was more than a first draft of history, he said, as it gave a unique insight into the events that brought him to ministerial office.

“The circumstances he and the government confronted in the wake of the attempted illegal importation of arms at the behest of two very powerful ministers in the cabinet are vividly and chillingly recalled,” said Mr Rabbitte.

Describing the Arms Crisis as the greatest threat to the State since the Civil War, he said then-taoiseach Jack Lynch had forced down “the wild men” within Fianna Fáil in the face of a threat of “unparalleled gravity”.

He said the memoir dealt with many more events: Charles Haughey’s leadership of Fianna Fáil, the illegal tapping of journalists’ telephones, the Beef Tribunal, and the setting up of the PDs – events Mr Rabbitte said were dealt with at “some pace” in the book.