Jan­uary 22nd, 1983

Pub­lished: Jan­uary 22nd 1983 Pho­to­graph by Peter Thurs­field

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

Now, hands up who recog­nises this news story? Clue: it was dubbed “Ire­land’s Water­gate”. Our pho­to­graph was taken in the midst of a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal hoo- ha, on a day when two prom­i­nent mem­bers of Fianna Fáil re­signed from the party’s front bench. The pic­ture shows one of them, Ray MacSharry, at a press con­fer­ence in Le­in­ster House.

Mr MacSharry was fa­mous for his self- con­trol: al­ways im­mac­u­late, in both dress and lan­guage. On this oc­ca­sion, he was armed with a care­fully worded state­ment, only for his body lan­guage to be­tray him com­pletely.

As a por­trait of a politi­cian un­der pres­sure, this pic­ture would be mas­ter­ful enough. But what is it a pic­ture of, re­ally? Yep. A tape recorder.

And that’s the news story, right there. While he was Tá­naiste and Min­is­ter for Fi­nance,

MacSharry had recorded a con­ver­sa­tion he shouldn’t have, us­ing a ma­chine which be­longed, not to him, but to An Garda Siochána.

Of course, as he ex­plained in his state­ment, he didn’t know the ma­chine be­longed to the Garda – even though it had been brought to his of­fice by the Deputy Garda Com­mis­sioner, which might give most peo­ple a mo­ment’s pause.

Our pho­tog­ra­pher has spot­ted a ma­chine on the ta­ble at the press con­fer­ence, and made it loom up in the fore­ground of the pic­ture, while MacSharry is rel­e­gated to the back­ground, the very im­age of a child who has been put on the naughty step.

Tech­ni­cally, our pho­tog­ra­pher is be­ing naughty too. I’d be will­ing to bet that the tape recorder in the pic­ture has also been bor­rowed – since it’s the only one in sight, it more than likely be­longs to RTÉ.

But then, it’s not against the law to take a pic­ture of a tape recorder.

As for the carafe of wa­ter, is it half- empty or half- full?

The lat­ter, is the cor­rect an­swer, for MacSharry sur­vived his chas­tise­ment and went on to have a long and suc­cess­ful ca­reer in pol­i­tics.

Ar­minta Wal­lace Ar­chive pho­to­graphs and other

Ir­ish Times im­ages can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

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