Seán Doherty’s daughter criticises ‘salacious’ Charlie series

Rachel Doherty says programme is unfair to Charles Haughey’s minister for justice

The daughter of former minister for justice Seán Doherty has criticised his depiction in the TV series Charlie.

Rachel Doherty said the series about the late former taoiseach Charles Haughey, the second episode of which was broadcast by RTÉ on Sunday night, was "salacious" and "unfair" in relation to her father, who died in 2005 aged 61.

Ms Doherty, a Fianna Fáil councillor for the Boyle district in Co Roscommon, questioned if the dramatised programme was "fact based" and said it put "words in people's mouths".

Her father was a former detective garda who joined Fianna Fáil and quickly rose through the political ranks after his election as a TD for Roscommon-Leitirm in 1977. He was promoted by Mr Haughey to serve as minister for justice in 1982.


Mr Doherty gave political authorisation for the covert recording of the phones of a number of journalists and his career went into decline after these events were revealed by Fine Gael's Michael Noonan, his successor as minister for justice, in 1983. He initially denied Mr Haughey knew about the bugging but later said he had, which precipitated a heave against Mr Haughey that eventually led to his downfall.

The latest episode of the programme depicted Mr Doherty as a stooge who was highly willing to carry out Mr Haughey’s bidding.

“I need someone to watch my back,” says Mr Haughey, telling Mr Doherty that he is now minister for justice. Amid a series of delighted “fucks” and “I’m top dog now” - Mr Doherty replies: “Your back is my back, Boss.”

Ms Doherty told the Today with Seán O'Rourke programme that it was "complete conjecture that those conversations took place" in the manner depicted by the series.

Put to her that Mr Doherty had been one of the most controversial ministers for justice ever, she replied that her father was a “seriously bright, intelligent, sharp-minded TD who worked very hard for his constituents”. It was “unfair that his entire life should be absolutely boxed” by what happened in a brief and highly turbulent period in Irish political life.

"This is not the person that was my late father. It was not the Sean Doherty that represented the people of Roscommon," she said. "I think it's in bad taste overall. It's obviously trying to get a high viewership. It's salacious in its content and quite frankly, apart from being sad and upset this morning, I'm angry and disgusted."

Ms Doherty said somebody was going to be made the bad guy in the series and that Mr Doherty had been immediately thrust into this role. She claimed there was no attempt to contact the Doherty family or his friends or the people of Co Roscommon about the character.

Mary O'Rourke, a former Fianna Fáil minister, said Mr Doherty was a lively and bright colleague. Ms O'Rourke complained last week about the portrayal of her late brother Brian Lenihan in the first episode of the series.

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is an Assistant News Editor with The Irish Times