Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dail tributes to 'icon of decency and high honour'

House united in paying respects

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny last night said his former party leader and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald made a "truly remarkable contribution to Ireland".

The Dail held a minute's silence yesterday in memory of the former Taoiseach after all sides of the political divide paid tribute to his work.

The day's Dail business was postponed to make way for expressions of sympathy from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Opposition leaders and TDs from the constituency of Dublin South East, where Dr FitzGerald had been a public representative.

At the commencement of the Dail session at 10.30am, Mr Kenny said the chamber would hear tributes and then adjourn until Tuesday as a mark of respect.

Both sides of the House paid tribute to Dr FitzGerald for 50 minutes.

Mr Kenny led the tributes, saying: "Garret was a true patriot; an icon of decency and high honour in public life, whose fluency in economics was balanced by the humility, the generosity and the warmth of his personal and family life."

The former Taoiseach's commitment to achieving peace and reconciliation on this island, and between Ireland and Britain, reached fruition this week with the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland, the Taoiseach said.

Mr Gilmore said Dr FitzGerald was a "shining model of citizenship".

"At the historic gathering last night in Dublin Castle when the heads of state of these two islands met in friendship and unity, his absence was palpable for it was he, more than any other, who was the intellectual and political father on the road we have travelled together," Mr Gilmore said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said his party had not agreed with Dr FitzGerald on every political issue but he greatly admired his integrity, his abilities and his unfailing politeness and courtesy. The former Taoiseach was a person who cared deeply about Ireland and gave distinguished and patriotic service to our people, the Fianna Fail leader said.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Dr FitzGerald was clearly and deeply committed to public life, public service and citizenship.

Independent TD Shane Ross, who spoke on behalf of the Technical Group, said that above anybody else Dr FitzGerald initiated the movement for tolerance, an end to sectarianism, non-violence, equality and respect for minorities, both north and south of the Border.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who first met Dr FitzGerald in the 1960s when he was a junior lecturer in UCD, described him as an "intellectual, a politician, a feminist, a liberal, a European and an Irishman".

"I loved him dearly and I regret his passing," Mr Quinn added.

Junior Minister Lucinda Creighton, who like Mr Quinn is a TD in the former constituency of Dr FitzGerald, said: "In the not too distant past, when I came under some pressure for comments I made, he took the time to approach me to say, 'Lucinda, never, ever waver, always follow your convictions'."

Irish Independent

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