not a member? click here to sign up
I life less ordinary
In the final months of his battle with cancer, TONY GREGORY sat down with Hot Press to discuss his life and career. Knowing it would be his final interview he was in a reflective frame of mind.
Jason O'Toole, 23 Jan 2009
Can you talk me through what you remember about the actual Gregory Deal?
I met with the people that I was involved with and we drew up a list of issues that I stood for in the election. We gave them – Haughey, O’Leary and Fitzgerald – a whole list and we said, ‘What are you doing on the housing front? The unemployment front? For the disadvantaged? Education?’ Haughey came back with a big bloody document that would knock you over. I gave it back to him and said, ‘I’m not interested in big documents. I need to know what you are going to do on each of those issues and the timeframe and how much you’re going to spend’. And it was the same with Garret. O’Leary wasn’t interested; he left it to Garret. Haughey and FitzGerald eventually came back with their specific responses.
What made you trash out a deal with Haughey rather than FitzGerald?
It was clear to our group that Haughey was the only one who was actually recognising that we meant what we were saying. Haughey said he’d deliver a whole range of things. We agreed on that basis to support him. His government only lasted eight or nine months but during that short period he made every effort on the issues we’d agreed on. And quite a number of them were implemented in full. And if that Government had gone on for five years it would have been a major achievement for me. Unfortunately, it only went on for eight or nine months, but there was a lot done in that time.
However, when that Government fell and Fitzgerald came back into power, the Gregory Deal was abandoned. Did his government prevent many of your projects from going ahead?
Garret FitzGerald and the Fine Gael/Labour coalition did their best to undo a lot. For example, they wouldn’t build the school – which would have been the first secondary school in the north inner city – in Sean McDermott Street. Haughey had organised the site and had the builders ready. So, we had this big site with a sign up on it – ‘site for community school provided by Dublin City Council’ – and it remained like that for about 10 years until it was eventually built. It’s now the Larkin College.