Thursday 30 March 2017

This Government 'can learn from John A Costello's lesson'

The Costello family, including John A Costello's grandchildren and great-grandchildren Olivia (6) and Sophie (10) Fitzgerald at the Deansgrange commemoration Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Costello family, including John A Costello's grandchildren and great-grandchildren Olivia (6) and Sophie (10) Fitzgerald at the Deansgrange commemoration Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

In many regards, John A Costello seemed like an unlikely political leader. An unassuming man, he veered away from publicity and self-promotion.

Indeed, when he emerged as Taoiseach in 1948, it surprised and startled many - including outgoing Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and Costello himself, who had not sought out the post.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor Photo: Colin O'Riordan

According to RTÉ'S David McCullagh, Costello's modesty made him a "truly extraordinary Taoiseach".

At a commemoration service ahead of Costello's 125th birthday, McCullagh paid tribute to the modest leader.

"If he had known that he would be described as extraordinary, he would have been astounded - and probably horrified!" McCullagh said. "Because one of the extraordinary things about Jack Costello was his modesty. He had a complete lack of ego, of self-importance, of self-regard."

McCullagh added that these were traits "not particularly common among politicians".

RTÉ's David McCullagh delivered the oration at Deansgrange Photo: Colin O'Riordan
RTÉ's David McCullagh delivered the oration at Deansgrange Photo: Colin O'Riordan

Costello led an inter-party government made up of five political parties and a number of Independents.

According to McCullagh, our current Government could take lessons and warnings from Costello's inter-party government.

He said: "His greatest contribution was the skill with which he kept his coalition governments together.

"John A Costello didn't choose his cabinet, they chose him - and their clashing egos and strong personalities were kept together for longer than anyone expected, largely through the efforts of this extraordinary man."

The service was attended by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Costello's granddaughter Vanessa Fitzgerald, with her daughters Olivia (6) and Sophie (10).

McCullagh said Costello's generosity "was kept well hidden under a gruff exterior, and behind his combative performances in the Dáil".

Irish Independent

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