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Monday 5 December 2016

He strove to make Ireland a better place for all its people

Published 20/05/2011 | 05:00

President Mary McAleese greets the late Dr Garret Fitzgerald at the celebration of the centenary of the Irish Universities Act 1908, which established the National University of Ireland and Queen's University. Mark Stedman/ Photocall Ireland

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Garret was the renaissance man of our time. His thoughtful writing, distinctive voice and probing intellect all combined to make him one of our national treasures. Above all, Garret Fitzgerald was a true public servant. Steeped in the history of the State, he constantly strove to make Ireland a better place for all its people."

President Mary McAleese

"He was a most generous man in every way. His opponents were his friends. The only time I used to see him being short-tempered was at a political meeting where people were dragging themselves in from the bar at 9pm. It used to drive him mad."

Former Tanaiste Peter Barry

"I think the lasting legacy was the achievement of the Anglo Irish agreement against all the odds and against the tide and with a British prime minister who did not have an understanding of the difficult situation in Northern Ireland or a feel for Irish politics at that time."

Former Labour leader and Tanaiste Dick Spring

"It is a remarkable coincidence that Dr FitzGerald's death this morning occurred during these historic days for our country which have resulted, in no small part, from his efforts to promote peace and reconciliation between Ireland and Britain throughout his lifetime."

Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady

"He had a great sense of egalitarianism. His intellect was so vivid and quick. He changed things enormously just by being himself. There is no better word than patriot for him."

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney (left)

"Garret FitzGerald was a giant in many spheres of Irish public life. Throughout his whole life he contributed in an outstanding way to Irish society, Irish politics and the Irish people. The country is the poorer today for his loss."

NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning

"The amazing thing about Garret was that, despite his monumental status as an academic and statesman, he was the easiest person in the world to talk to. Was there ever such a great man who was on first name terms with literally everyone he met? IFUT is proud to say that he was one of our own. He will be sadly missed."

Irish Federation of University Teachers General Secretary Mike Jennings. Dr FitzGerald was a founding member.

"Garret FitzGerald was a moral as well as a political leader of great integrity. He is somebody whose death reminds us of his greatness. He had an integrity about how he tried to live the life he talked about. He really wanted more equality in Ireland, more social justice. He loved to talk about how important education was."

Former President Mary Robinson

"He was a man who will be a giant in the historical recollections of the Irish people for centuries."

Former EU Commissioner and Attorney General Peter Sutherland

"Dr FitzGerald made a unique contribution to Aer Lingus and played a significant role in the development of the airline's route structure in the 1940s and 1950s, at a time when Aer Lingus was central to the development of Ireland's economic growth."

Enda Corneille, Director Shared Services, Aer Lingus

"He always struck me as someone who was a statesman, as well as a politician, someone who was in politics for all the right reasons and someone who made a huge contribution to the peace process and bringing reconciliation for all that had happened in the past. I hope today of all days, with the state visit and the warm relationship between Britain and Ireland, that he can see that some of his work has been completed."

British Prime Minister David Cameron (right)

"Dr FitzGerald was a full, enthusiastic and generous contributor to the formal business of RTE as he was to all of the countless civic, political and academic duties which he performed in his long career of service in Irish public life. RTE benefited from his wisdom and his deep experience in Irish society and public affairs."

RTE Chairman Tom Savage

"Dr FitzGerald passionately believed in helping the world's poor. Through his commitment to social justice around the world, overseas aid has become a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy."

Trocaire chief executive Justin Kilcullen

"Throughout his life and career he made a major contribution to the debate about transport policy in Ireland and in our Institute, as demonstrated through his status as an International Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport International."

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport president Paul Mallee

"Garret FitzGerald will be remembered most for his simple, practical patriotism, a love of country that showed itself in his committed and focused engagement with the difficult issues of the day right up until his recent illness. Age most certainly did not wither him."

Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly

"Long after his retirement he worked tirelessly during successive referendum campaigns to ensure that Ireland remained fully engaged and at the very heart of the European Union. He was an astute economic commentator."

IBEC Director General Danny McCoy

"He introduced thousands of UCD students to the mysteries of Irish economic statistics, the contemporary Irish economy and the workings of . . . the European Union. Although his lectures were often dense . . . he was universally liked by students, because he was accessible and interested in them."

UCD President Dr Hugh Brady

Irish Independent

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