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BEN HURT; CHARLES HAUGHEY: PALS TELL OF THEIR PAIN 'I feel that some of my behaviour over the years had a bad effect on Charlie's life..and that really saddens me' - BEN DUNNE YESTERDAY.

Byline: By MAEVE QUIGLEY

FORMER supermarket tycoon Ben Dunne said yesterday he took some of the blame for the downfall of Charles Haughey.

He added: "I wouldn't use the word 'all' but what I am certainly sure of is that I caused him some hurt and that hurts me."

Following Dunne's night of cocaine-fuelled madness with a hooker in a Miami hotel in 1992, the mystery of Haughey's incredible wealth began to unravel.

It was revealed Dunne had given more than EUR1.3million to the former Taoiseach, who died on Tuesday, and other key businessmen had made donations totalling around EUR10million.

Dunne - who was dumped from the Dunnes Stores board following the scandal - said he was deeply distressed he had not spoken to Charlie Haughey for years before his death.

Speaking on RTE radio he added: "At this time, my thoughts and prayers are with Charlie's wife Maureen and his children Eimear, Sean, Conor and Kieran and his brother Fr Eoin, all of whom I know fairly well.

"It is still a very sad time for me. Unfortunately for me, some things affect me emotionally more than other things and some deaths have a profound effect on me.

"And the death of Charlie Haughey affected me that way.

"I had a lot of contact with him over the years and I read things.

"And whether I like it or not I feel that some of my behaviour in the past had an effect on Charlie's life - and a bad effect and that saddens me.

"If it was that easy for me to deal with I wouldn't be so emotionally upset.

"Just like the unfortunate person who has a problem with his heart has got to learn to cope with that, one of my weaknesses is my brain and some things, whether I have been responsible in a small way or a big way, can upset me very emotion ally." Mr Dunne said the last time he spoke to Haughey was in 1997 outside the Dublin District Court during the Moriarty Tribunals.

But he revealed he had not had the chance to make his peace with the former Taoiseach in recent times.

He said: "That hurts me even more."

Mr Dunne added he had always admired Haughey for his intelligence and insisted the man who was elected Taoiseach three times would eventually be remembered in a positive way.

He said: "The Charlie Haughey I remember was a man full of life.

"He had a fantastic brain and I have always said that I admired him because I think he could read the future extraordinarily clearly in lots of areas.

"He had a huge knowledge over a very wide range of subjects and that was impressive to me."

Mr Dunne would not comment on his past dealings with Mr Haughey as he said it was not the appropriate time. He added: "There will be plenty of time in the future when Charlie is laid to rest to go through all the dissecting that will be done."

Mr Dunne said he would concentrate on remembering the good times he had spent with Mr Haughey with warmth and affection.

He added: "I think it would be wrong to make judgment on the coverage right now - there are a lot of things being written and said and people's emotions are not at their normal levels in some cases.

"I would be certainly one of those cases. Some historians will find negatives all the time.

"But on balance I think the vast majority will consider the evidence and the late Charles Haughey will come out with more pluses than minuses."

news@irishmirror.ie

CHARLIE'S BIGGEST GOODBYE: PAGES 4&5

CAPTION(S):

PROBE: Haughey at Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin in 2000 charged of obstructing the McCracken Tribunal' REGRETS: Ben Dunne feels he may have aided Haughey's fall from grace' Mirror reports on Haughey's downfall
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2006
Words:648
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