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Charlie Haughey and Ray Burke were among those who had safes in their homes in the early 80s. Here they are pictured in 1989. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
State Papers

Haughey government decided ministers should get a safe and shredder in their homes

If they required them, that is. The Fine Gael-led coalition tried to get them back in 1983 after they came to power.

CHARLES HAUGHEY’s GOVERNMENT decided that Cabinet ministers should have safes and shredders installed in their homes and that the State should cover the cost.

State papers reveal how in 1983, the newly-elected Fine Gael-Labour government tried to ensure that the safes that had been installed at public expense in the homes of Haughey and former justice minister Seán Doherty – who also had one in his country home – were returned now they had left office.

A memo dated 11 January 1983, details how the Fianna Fáil government decided informally in September 1980 that the safes should be installed in the homes of ministers for their government papers.

As a result, safes were installed in the homes of Haughey, Minster for Fisheries and Forestry Paddy Power and Minister for Environment Ray Burke.

Then in March 1981 – just months before Fianna Fáil was ousted by a Fine Gael-led coalition – a decision was taken that a “safe and shredder should be provided at public expense in the home of every minister who required them” with the Office of Public Works organising such installations.

No shredders

In addition to Haughey, Power, and Burke, safes were also installed in both the Dublin and country homes of Doherty as well as the home of junior minister Sylvester Barrett.

The memo adds: “OPW (Office of Public Works) received no requests for shredders and understood that these were supplied by individual departments where required”.

It’s not known if any shredders were actually supplied to ministers for their homes.

In July 1981 the government also decided that security locks should be fitted to hall doors in ministers’ homes if they requested them.

With Fianna Fáil gone from power, the memo of January 1983 records that the Department of Justice was making arrangements to remove two safes from Doherty’s home in Dublin and his country home, as well as from the home of junior minster Sylvie Barrett.

Instructions were also issued “for the removal of the safe from the home of the former Taoiseach”.

While it is not known if the Garret FitzGerald-led government availed of safes and shredders from the OPW during it’s time in office from 1982 to 1987, an earlier memo notes that there were “no requests for safes” received from his previous and short-lived administration during its period in office from June 1981 to March 1982.

Read: The things that Haughey was sent in 1982

Read: Letter from an Irish housewife to Charlie Haughey

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