'A courageous voice against terrorism' - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pays tribute to inspirational Liam Cosgrave
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described his late predecessor Liam Cosgrave as “a courageous voice against terrorism”.
In a lengthy statement tonight, Mr Varadkar said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the 97-year-old’s passing.
“Liam Cosgrave was someone who devoted his life to public service; a grateful country thanks and honours him for that and for always putting the nation first.
“Throughout his life he worked to protect and defend the democratic institutions of our State, and showed great courage and determination in doing so,” the Fine Gael leader said.
Mr Cosgrave “always believed in peaceful co-operation as the only way of achieving a genuine union between the people on this island”, Mr Varadkar added.
The Taoiseach also noted that “Liam provided a powerful link back to the foundation of the State”.
“His father, W.T. Cosgrave, helped create many of our institutions, and defended them when they were in jeopardy, and his son shared the same values and approach to public life.
“He joined the army during the second world war when volunteers were needed, reaching the rank of lieutenant, and he brought the same spirit of civic responsibility to his political career.”
Mr Varadkar goes on to describe the late Taoiseach as “an internationally respected statesman” who oversaw Ireland joining the United Nations.
“Consistently opposed to the use of violence, Liam Cosgrave was a courageous voice against terrorism, and protected the State in times of crisis.
“As Taoiseach he played an important role in the Sunningdale Agreement, which helped pave the way for the later agreements culminating in the Good Friday Agreement and peace on this island,” Mr Varadkar said.
“A man of conscience and principle, Liam Cosgrave joined Fine Gael at the age of seventeen, was a TD for almost forty years, and leader of the party for twelve.
“His time as Taoiseach between 1973 and 1977 will be remembered for Sunningdale, the qualities he brought in leading a successful coalition government, and his courageous defence of the state against threats internal and external.”
Mr Vardakar said “Liam was a man of great loyalty and kindness, a wonderful sense of humour, and strong personal dignity”.
“His entire life was in the service of the State, and he inspired so many with his quiet determination, courage and fortitude. Our thoughts today are particularly with his three children, Mary, Liam and Ciaran.”
He concluded that his own career has ben “inspired by his spirit of incredible public service and as Taoiseach I hope to live up to his great example”.
“Liam Cosgrave is perhaps best summed up by paraphrasing one of his most famous speeches: he was a man of integrity who, totally disregarding self-interest, always served the nation. Today we have lost a Statesman and a great man.”