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Charlie Haughey's hotel suite during a visit to France was triple the cost of the room given to another minister

The government also took special care with the visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah.

The hotel where Charlie Haughey stayed.
The hotel where Charlie Haughey stayed.
Image: Shutterstock/EQRoy

WHEN AN IRISH delegation visited Paris in 1989, Taoiseach Charlie Haughey’s hotel suite was nearly three times more expensive than the other rooms. 

Details of correspondence and government briefings on the high-profile cases have been released to the National Archives as part of the 30-year rule.

Every year, they offer a little bit more insight into former leaders thoughts, actions and sometimes even their lifestyles. 

Haughey, known for enjoying something of a lavish lifestyle, was a long-time admirer of French socialist president François Mitterrand even before the visit in 1989. 

The French president had visited Ireland the year before in 1988 and had struck up a good relationship with Haughey, with the taoiseach ensuring that Mitterand was wined and dined during the high-profile state visit. 

Haughey’s two-day trip, which took place in October 1989, saw him visit the city alongside his wife and a delegation of staff, including Minister of State Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, to meet Mitterrand. 

image (10) Source: State Papers

Haughey’s room cost 12,441 francs, while Geoghegan-Quinn’s room cost 2,847 francs – considerably cheaper. 

The taoiseach was familiar with the city – he famously ordered his shirts from Charvet, Paris. 

Hotel Meurice was similarly plush. Situated in the heart of Paris, it was a frequent haunt of Haughey when he was in the city

During his visit to Dublin the year before, Mitterand was fed a three-course dinner featuring a seafood starter, a salmon steak with asparagus as the main, and macedonia fruit with raspberry sauce was the dessert.

At a separate event, they dined on salmon, a beef filet, that season’s vegetables, a selection of Irish cheeses and strawberries.

Like Haughey, Mitterand had expensive tastes and some unusual dining habits – some of which was featured in in the 2015 TV show ‘Haughey’

 Saudi Prince

In 1989, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdfulazi Al Saud visited Dublin to meet Haughey. 

A confidential briefing for the meeting includes details on alcohol and security during his visit, with particular focus on a lunch thrown in Dublin. 

“Strictly, we need not (and perhaps should not) offer any Saudi an alcoholic drink while in Ireland,” the memo states. 

“What we have to aim for, therefore, is a beverage service which is neither seen to be obviously discriminatory nor, on the other hand, embarrassing to our guests.”

Waiters were to be advised that when approaching a Saudi official they “must make sure that there is an ample selection of soft drinks at the front of his tray”. 

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For the prince, the briefing warns that juice should be placed in jugs on the table, close to the Saudi representatives but “not, of course, exactly opposite each Saudi placing”. 

“Ideally, the wine should also be decanted – for some odd reason the sight of the noble beverage in decanters or jugs is deemed to be less offensive than in the bottle. If we cannot manage that, the bottle should be suitably (dare I say it) ‘veiled’”. 

Suggesting that the wine be wrapped in a serviette, the memo states that the “forbidden potion” should be carefully chosen to ensure that wine isn’t mistaken for juice. 

Crown Prince Abdullah appears to have enjoyed his visit. 

In a letter, sent to Haughey, the prince wrote: “Praising the ties of friendship between our two countries and the mutual desire of further strengthening our relationship, I hereby renew my invitation to you to visit the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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