Saturday 24 February 2018

John Cooney: Legacy of FitzGerald destined to eclipse that of nemesis

John Cooney

GARRET FitzGerald and Charlie Haughey dominated the Irish political landscape of the 1970s and 1980s like two Titans locked in a rivalry which has an uncanny parallel with the gigantic battles in 19th century Britain between prime ministers William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli.

The Liberal Gladstone, a Victorian moralist and author of a learned treatise against papal infallibility, was an Anglo template for the Celtic (really Anglo-Norman) FitzGerald, with his occupation of the ethical high-ground and frequent incursions into theological disputation with the Rome of Pope Paul VI and the Irish Catholic Hierarchy.

Like the rakish and scheming Disraeli, who climbed to the top of 'the greasy pole' as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, Haughey, too, acquired whiffs of sulphur on his Charvet shirts, yachts, horses and bank accounts as he amassed his mansion in Kinsealy, and bought Inishvickillane island off the Kerry coast.

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