Friday 20 October 2017

Cosgrave's death is a reminder: cut any of us and we bleed Fine Gael or Fianna Fail

Political Notebook

IRISH WAYS: Christy Moore’s mother stood for Fine Gael in 1969. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
IRISH WAYS: Christy Moore’s mother stood for Fine Gael in 1969. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

My favourite Liam Cosgrave story relates to the collapse of the second inter-party government in 1957, a parable which could go to the heart of Fine Gael to this day.

Then the Minister for External Affairs, Cosgrave personally held the deflationary policies of the then Finance Minister, the rather grand Gerard Sweetman, responsible for the fall of the government after three years, and is said to have told him so in typically blunt fashion, stating that Fine Gael "was no longer led by people living in big houses at the end of long avenues".

The Sweetman family did not live at the end of a long avenue, as it happened, but had a fine townhouse on Dublin's Baggot Street. A 1911 census return shows that the family of three, including young Gerard then aged two, employed no fewer than three servants. After the government's collapse, Cosgrave is said to have not spoken to Sweetman for some years.

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