Seán Doherty (Roscommon politician)

For other people named Seán Doherty, see Seán Doherty (disambiguation).
Seán Doherty
Minister for Justice
In office
9 March 1982  14 December 1982
Taoiseach Charles Haughey
Preceded by Jim Mitchell
Succeeded by Michael Noonan
Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann
In office
1 November 1989  23 January 1992
President Patrick Hillery
Mary Robinson
Preceded by Tras Honan
Succeeded by Seán Fallon
Teachta Dála
In office
November 1992  May 2002
Constituency Longford–Roscommon
In office
1 October 1989  22 January 1992
Constituency Administrative Panel
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1977  June 1989
Constituency Roscommon–Leitrim
Personal details
Born (1944-06-29)29 June 1944
Cootehall, Roscommon, Ireland
Died 7 June 2005(2005-06-07) (aged 60)
Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Maura Nangle
Children 4 daughters

Seán Doherty (29 June 1944 – 7 June 2005), known informally as The Doc, was a controversial Irish Fianna Fáil politician and Minister for Justice.


Born and raised in Cootehall near Boyle, County Roscommon, he was educated at national level in County Leitrim and then at University College Dublin and King's Inns.

In 1965, Doherty became a member of the Garda Síochána and served as a Detective in Sligo before joining the Special Branch in Dublin in the early 1970s.

Doherty came from a family which had a long tradition of public service and political involvement in County Roscommon. In 1973 Doherty took a seat on Roscommon County Council, which was vacant after the death of his father.[1][2]

Doherty married Maura Nangle, who is the sister of Irish musician Carmel Gunning. Together they had four daughters, one of them, Rachel Doherty is councillor serving on Roscommon County Council.

Political career

After serving for four years as a local representative on Roscommon County Council, Doherty was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Roscommon–Leitrim constituency at the 1977 general election.[3]

Support of Charles Haughey

In 1979, Doherty was a key member of the so-called "gang of five" which supported Charles Haughey's attempt to take over the leadership of the party. The other members were Albert Reynolds, Mark Killilea, Jnr, Tom McEllistrim and Jackie Fahey.

Haughey was successful in the leadership contest and Doherty was rewarded by being appointed Minister of State at the Department of Justice from 1979 to 1981. In the short-lived 1982 Fianna Fáil government Doherty entered the Cabinet as Minister for Justice. In this post he became involved in a series of controversies.

Dowra affair

The brother of Seán Doherty's wife Maura, Garda Thomas Nangle,[4] was charged with assaulting James McGovern, a native of County Fermanagh, in a public house in December 1981. On 27 September 1982, hours before the case was due to be heard in the District Court in Dowra, a small village in northwest County Cavan, McGovern was arrested by the Special Branch of the RUC on the basis of entirely false Garda intelligence that he was involved in terrorism. The case against Nangle was dismissed because the principal witness, McGovern, failed to appear in court. The solicitor representing Nangle was Kevin Doherty, Seán Doherty's brother.[5][6][7] This 'questionable' use of Garda/RUC Special Branch liaison, set up under the 1985 Hillsborough Anglo-Irish Agreement, prevented meetings between the Garda commissioner and the RUC chief constable for almost three years.[8]

Phone tapping

After Doherty left office it was revealed in The Irish Times that he ordered the tapping of three journalists home telephones. The newspaper also disclosed that he had been interfering in the workings of the Garda and the administration of justice for both political and personal reasons. He immediately resigned from the party; however, he rejoined in 1984. At the 1989 general election his lost his seat in Dáil Éireann to the independent candidate Tom Foxe.[9]

Seanad Éireann

He was also an unsuccessful candidate in the elections on the same day to the European Parliament, but he was later elected instead to the Seanad on the Administrative Panel and became the Cathaoirleach (Chairman) of the 19th Seanad.

End of Haughey term

In January 1992 the phone tapping scandal returned to haunt Fianna Fáil. Doherty announced in a television interview that he had shown transcripts of the conversations to Charles Haughey while Haughey was Taoiseach in 1982. Doherty had previously denied this. Haughey denied the claim also, but was forced to resign from the government, and then resigned as leader of Fianna Fáil. Doherty then regained his seat at the 1992 general election and held it until his retirement at the 2002 general election.


Seán Doherty died at Letterkenny General Hospital of a brain haemorrhage on 7 June 2005 while on a family holiday in County Donegal.[2][10]


  1. Angelique Chrisafis (8 June 2005). "Obituary: Seán Doherty". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Taoiseach leads tributes to ex-minister Doherty". The Irish Times. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  3. "Mr. Seán Doherty". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  4. "Thomas Nangle". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  5. "Rot from the top that ripped the heart out of the gardai". Irish Independent. 1 August 2004. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  6. "A Political Life 1979-1987: Charles Haughey". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  7. "Legendary Pol Dies of Hemorrhage". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  8. "Anglo-Irish Security Co-operation: A Dublin Perspective". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  9. "Seán Doherty". Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  10. "Former Justice Minister Seán Doherty laid to rest". The Irish Times. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Mitchell
Minister for Justice
Mar.–Dec. 1982
Succeeded by
Michael Noonan
Preceded by
Tras Honan
Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann
Succeeded by
Seán Fallon
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.