Family at bedside of gravely ill former Taoiseach
FORMER Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald was surrounded by his family today as he remained gravely ill in hospital.
Dr FitzGerald (85) was taken to the Mater Hospital several days ago after becoming ill and is currently on a ventilator.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke during his trade visit to New York of his hopes that Mr FitzGerald would come through his medical difficulties.
"I'm aware that he is in hospital and on a ventilator and I know that his family have been called to his side," he said.
Mr Kenny said he had last spoken to Dr FitzGerald a few weeks ago in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, where the former Taoiseach had been presented with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to public services.
"I say a prayer for his health and well-being. I hope that he makes it through. He's an Irish institution that we don't deserve to lose at this stage," he added.
Dr FitzGerald served two terms as taoiseach at the head of the Fine Gael-Labour coalitions in the 1980s and has continued to play a major role in public life since then.
He campaigned for the 'Yes' side in both Lisbon Treaty referenda and has written regularly on economic affairs.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton, who served as Dr FitzGerald's finance minister, extended his best wishes to him last night.
"I think everybody who knows him is praying that he will make a recovery. He's a tremendous asset to the country," he said.
Dr FitzGerald is well known for his devotion to his late wife Joan and their three children.
His most recent TV interview was on RTE's 'Saturday Night Show', when he spoke about his belief that the country would make an economic recovery.
A spokeswoman for Dr FitzGerald confirmed yesterday that he was being treated in hospital and said that medical staff were carrying out tests to diagnose the cause of the illness.