Thursday 20 September 2018

Parties unite in tributes to ex-Taoiseach - but Adams dubs him a 'divisive' figure

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar signs a book of condolence for Liam Cosgrave at Fine Gael’s office in Dublin. Photo: Justin Farrelly.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar signs a book of condolence for Liam Cosgrave at Fine Gael’s office in Dublin. Photo: Justin Farrelly.

Cormac McQuinn and John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Liam Cosgrave was an inspiration and he hoped to live up to his great example.

The national flag flew at half-mast at Leinster House as representatives of all Dáil parties joined in tribute to the former Taoiseach, from the years 1973-1977, who died on Wednesday.

Mr Varadkar said Mr Cosgrave had led the State through some of the most turbulent years of the Northern Ireland Troubles and was always a courageous voice against terrorism.

The Taoiseach said he was a man of great loyalty and kindness with a wonderful sense of humour and strong personal dignity.

"Liam Cosgrave's entire life was in the service of the State: politician, soldier, Taoiseach.

"He inspired so many with his quiet, showless determination, courage and fortitude," Mr Varadkar said.

He said Mr Cosgrave had a commanding presence but also great humility.

"In my own career, I have been inspired by his spirit of incredible public service and as Taoiseach I hope to live up to his great example," he added.

Mr Cosgrave will be given a "limited State funeral" tomorrow as per his family's wishes.

This smaller and more family oriented service will be at noon at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham, followed by burial in Goldenbridge Cemetery, Inchicore.

Following a series of tributes yesterday, the Dáil was suspended as a mark of respect until next Tuesday.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin expressed his party's condolences.

"I have no hesitation in saying that Liam Cosgrave was a man who gave so much to Irish public life and deserves a place of honour in our history," Mr Martin said, also recalling his opposition to Fianna Fáil.

The Fianna Fáil leader highlighted Mr Cosgrave's role as external affairs minister as Ireland joined the United Nations in the 1950s.

"Ireland's unique contribution to the United Nations and the exceptional international standing in which our country is held by so many others began to be constructed because of Liam Cosgrave's leadership at that time," Mr Martin said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Mr Cosgrave had been "a divisive figure" as Taoiseach in the 1970s, as he extended sympathy to the family.

"He was for many people, during turbulent and controversial periods of our history, a controversial and divisive figure but today is not the day to analyse this," the Sinn Féin leader said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the former Labour leader, Brendan Corish, and Mr Cosgrave came from very different political viewpoints - but co-operated in the 1973-77 government.

He said Mr Cosgrave had stood firm in the face of serious IRA threats to the institutions of State in the 1970s.

There were tributes also from Richard Boyd Barrett, of Solidarity-PBP, Eamon Ryan, of the Green Party, Róisín Shortall, of the Social Democrats, and Mattie McGrath, from the Rural Independent Group, as well as other deputies.

Irish Independent

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