PJ Mara Photocall Ireland

Mara on Haughey drama: "I'm sure RTÉ will be, as usual, even handed and balanced"

“RTÉ are legendary for that,” the former Fianna Fáil spindoctor said. In an entirely genuine tone of voice.

FORMER FIANNA FÁIL press advisor PJ Mara says he’s “amazed” that there’s still a public appetite for stories about Charlie Haughey, decades after the divisive politician stepped down as Taoiseach.

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, the veteran PR expert said it was “extraordinary” that the fascination had remained.

Mara’s role in the three part TV drama will be played by Tom Vaughan Lawlor, better known as ‘Nidge’ in the massively popular Love/Hate. Aidan Gillen — who portrayed Nidge’s gangland boss in first two series of the crime drama — will play Haughey.

The former press secretary said he was “flattered” by the casting choice, and confirmed he’d be tuning in whenever the production airs.

“Of course. I’m vain enough that if Tom Vaughan Lawlor is playing my part…  he almost has a reputation as big as Charlie Haughey had in his time, so that in itself would probably pander to my ego.”

Asked how he believed the events of the time would be depicted, the 71-year-old said (tongue firmly in cheek) he was sure that RTÉ would be, “as usual, even handed and balanced in its presentation”.

More seriously, he said he believed the producers should take a rounded approach to how Haughey is shown.

“They should look at the whole man and reflect on the good things that he did as well as the things he maybe shouldn’t have done.

“I think he deserves that it should be warts and all. But it should be all — not just warts.”

Mara said he’d be happy to meet up with Vaughan Lawlor as part of the actor’s process of preparation, but asked if he would give any advice to the Love/Hate star, replied “I would’t dare”.

The three-parter will cover the period from Haughey’s bid for power in 1979 to his departure from politics in 1992. It goes into production this week. An air date is yet to be confirmed.

Read: Guess who’s going to play Charles Haughey in a new drama?

Column: It’s 30 years since GUBU. Now THAT was a political battle

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