Large turnout expected as people bid fond farewell
Published 21/05/2011 | 05:00
GARRET FitzGerald's family want his former neighbours to have an opportunity to say a final goodbye at the Mansion House in Dublin today.
The former Taoiseach lived in nearby Ranelagh and Rathmines throughout his career, and regularly shopped in the neighbourhood where he was on first-name terms with hundreds of locals.
Big crowds are expected to pay their last respects to one of the state's most universally admired politicians in the civic heart of the city he loved.
Dr FitzGerald will be lying in repose in the Oak Room of the Mansion House in Dublin from 11am until 7pm this evening and the public can also sign a book of condolences.
The casket will be open to allow the public, friends and neighbours to see the much-loved late statesman, politician and academic for the last time.
At noon the media will also get an opportunity to record Dr FitzGerald lying in repose, although the family have requested that the dignity of the occasion should not be taken away by inappropriate photography.
The public will get a further chance to file past the coffin and offer their condolences to the family after the formal reception of Dr FitzGerald's remains to the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook for a service at 8pm.
It is understood that a number of dignitaries who worked with Dr FitzGerald in Europe and Britain will attend the funeral tomorrow for a Mass of Christian Burial at the church at 2.30pm.
Senior British civil servants who worked on the Anglo-Irish Agreement with Dr FitzGerald in 1985, and with whom he remained firm friends, are expected to attend.
Sources close to the FitzGerald family were unsure last night about who would deliver a graveside oration, although speculation was growing that it would be Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Although homilies in the church are expected to be confined to members of the FitzGerald family, sources close to them suggested that Peter Sutherland, an old family friend, be asked to speak.
Former Taoiseach John Bruton was also suggested as a possibility for the graveside oration, but it is not thought another former Fine Gael Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, will be a possibility.
Local Government TDs in the Dublin South-East constituency including Education Minister Ruairi Quinn of the Labour Party, who served in government with Dr FitzGerald, will attend the funeral with party colleague Kevin Humphreys.
Minister for State Lucinda Creighton, who holds one of two Fine Gael seats in the constituency, is expected to attend the funeral and Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy, who is in Beijing on party business, is rushing home to attend.