Garret Fitzgerald


Life
1926- ; son of Desmond and Mabel [née McConnell] Fitzgerald ed. UCD; grad. in French and Spanish, BA; m. Joan O’Farrell, 1947, with whom children John, Mark and Mary; he proceeded to take a PhD in Economics; lect. in pol. econ., UCD 1958–73; severally Managing Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit of Ireland, and Economic Consultant to the Federation of Irish Industries, the Construction Industry Federation, and Unilever and Esso in Ireland; Chairman, and later President, Irish Council of the European Movement, 1959-63; the first Irish foreign minister (Foreign Affairs); Fine Gael PM, 1969; Minister for Foreign Affairs, 1973–77;
 
elected Party Leader, 1977; Taoiseach in Coalition with Labour, 1981-82, and 1982-87, at the sudden fall of Charles Haughey’s “GUBU” government (in presidency of Dr. Patrick Hillery); established New Ireland Forum, 1983, but rued the selection of a 32-country state as the most desirable option - on the insistence of Charles Haughey - as ‘ritual obeisance’; successful referendum on right of unborn children (8th Amendment) introduced to Constitution on his watch, Sept. 1983; FitzGerald was crucially instrumental in reaching political accommodation with Britain at time of Northern Ireland crisis and a driving-force behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement, co-signed with Margaret Thatcher for the UK, Nov. 1985; gave up party leadership in response to large-scale election losses;
 
afterwards economic consultant and long-serving The Irish Times columnist, 1954 to 1973 and 1991- ; awarded Order of the Rising Sun Grand Cordon by Japanese Emperor, 1989; member of the Council of State in presidency of Mary Robinson; suffered the death of his wife, Joan, 1999; variously served as President of the Council of Ministers and of the European Council of Heads of Government; author of Towards a New Ireland (1972), All in a Life An Autobiography (1991), and Reflections on the Irish State (2003); Ireland In the World: Further Reflections (2006);
 
appt. Chancellor of National University of Ireland (NUI); d. 19 May 2011, bur. Shanaganagh Cemetery, Old Bray Rd., from Donnybrook Church, 21 May, after lying-in-state in Mansion House, Dublin; survived by a dg. Mary, who is married to the Joycean scholar Vincent Deane, and sons John, and Mark - who co-founded Sherry & Fizgerald, estate agents, in 1982. FDA

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Works
  • State-sponsored Bodies: Introduction to Public Administration Series (Dublin: IPA 1961);
  • Towards a New Ireland (London: C. Knight 1972), viii, 190pp., and Do. [rep.] (Dublin: Torc Books 1973), viii, 190pp.;
  • Irish Identities [Richard Dimbleby Lectures; May 1982] (London: BBC 1982);
  • Ireland and Social Reform To-day [Act IMP 8] (Dublin: Irish Messenger Publications [1986]), 30pp.;
  • What Makes Politics Tick?: Interests, Ideals or Emotions? [Queen’s Politics Occasional Paper, No. 3; John Whyte Memorial Lect.] (Belfast: QUB 1990), 28pp.;
  • Politics, Religion and Values [Glasgow Aquinas Lecture Ser.] (Manchester: Blackfriars 1997), 19pp.;
  • Pierre Joannon, John Hume, avec un témoignage de Garret FitzGerald [Politiques & chrétiens] (Paris: Beauchesne 1999), 378pp.;
  • All in a Life: An Autobiography (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1991), 674pp, ill. [pls. & ports.];
  • Reflections on the Irish State (Dublin: IAP 2003), xxvi, 202pp.;
  • Ireland in the World: Further Reflections on the Irish State (Dublin: Liberties Press 2005), 224pp., Ill. [with cover port. by Mary FitzGerald, his dg.].
 
Miscellaneous,
  • Towards a New Ireland [Extracts from interview with Gerald Barry of “This Week” RTÉ1, Sunday, 27 Sept. 1981] (RTE 1981); see also To the Rising: The Memoirs of Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin: Liberties Press 2006), 160pp. [by his father].
 

Note: Of innumerable contributions to The Irish Times, his critique of the 1971 decision to change the legal status of the majority of Irish primary schools from non-denominational to religious (i.e., Catholic) in the The Irish Times (Sat. 23 April 2011) was among the last.

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Criticism
James Dooge, ed., Ireland in the Contemporary World: Essays in Honour of Garret FitzGerald (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1986); James P. Mackey & Enda McDonagh, Religion and Politics in Ireland at the Turn of the Millenium: Essays in Honour of Garret Fitzgerald on [...] His Seventy-fifth Birthday (Dublin: Columba Press 2003), 304pp.

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Commentary
On the Land’, The Irish Times [leader] (14 Jan. 1971): ‘Yesterday's announcement by the Minister for Local Government, Mr. Robert Molloy, of the formation of a committee “to carry out an expert study into the question of building land prices and allied matters” certainly deserves a welcome. It. will need a deal of patience, determination, skill and courage to produce findings which will be both workable and generally acceptable. / Mr. Molloy's decision follows the openly admitted failure of his own Department to find “the basis for reasonable and workable legislation which would effectively control” prices. This is a measure of the complexity of the problem, which involves deeply ingrained social attitudes and a formidable legislative structure. An adequate and just policy in this sector of the economy is essential to the stability, progress and contentment of the Irish people. / Just before Christmas Dr. Garret FitzGerald contributed two articles to this, newspaper on the housing problem. His facts and figures disclosed, as he stated in his concluding paragraphs, “a vast volume of human misery, growing annually, in places like Dublin as the housing backlog increases.” And he made the accusing point that, in the twenty years during which the country had become almost three-quarters more prosperous, the volume of Dublin Housing Action Committee is not alone in its recognition of a social evil. / The main difficulty in fixing a price for land is that it contradicts the fundamental principle, entrenched in Irish society, of “fair rents free sale, and fixity of tenure.” There is no free-sale where priced are controlled. Then there is the matter of discriminating between building land and agricultural land. A substantial proportion of the latter alters its character with the growth of cities and towns. / Among the new committee's terms of reference is the obligation to consider possible measures for insuring that an increase in the value of land attributable to the decisions and operations of public authorities (particularly in respect of sewerage and water schemes - that is, “serviced” land) shall be secured for the benefit of the community. / Private developers are quick, to acquire land which has been made more valuable by local authority amenities or their useful proximity. (It is a sobering thought that the cost of site acquisition may account for as much as 20% of the total sum needed for the construction of a house). / The members of the committee have accepted nothing less than a labour of Hercules. But the quick completion of their task is as important as their burden is heavy: there must be no delay in coming to terms with a challenge which is at the heart and centre of the nations's welfare. If, in time - and not a long time, either - the committee is no more fortunate than the Departmental experts in discovering and agreeing upon an effective system of control, it must admit defeath rather than indulge in pointless delay.

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Historic bigotry’, in [Belfast Telegraph], 11 March 1980) [n. auth.]
Advocates of Irish unity have a penchant for harking back a couple of hundred years and pointing to the spirit of 1798 as epitomising “Catholic, Anglican and Dissenter” collaboration in the interests of the country.
 The leader of fine Gael, Dr. Garret FitzGerald is the latest to indulge this period piece which is no longer of any relevance to political thinking in Ulster.
 “In the past” he declared a few days ago: ”We have had leaders who have been able to break out of the narrow bonds of single-stream nationalism and have seen Ireland as a land in which different ethnic streams ... must be seen as co-equal partners.
 “Wolfe Tone led, Davis followed and others lke Michael Collins, with a vision of an ireland uniting Orange and Green, found later inspiration in their words.”
 If Tone led anything it was in preaching an undying hatred of Britain and all things British. “The truth is, I hate the very name of England; I hated her before my exile; I hate her since and I will always hate her ... hatred of England was so deeply rooted in my nature tha tit was rather an instinct than a principle.”
 And that venomous outburst was matched only bu his contempt for the Roman Catholic church which later explicitly condemned a movement founded to promote the ideas for which Tone stood.
 It is hardly the stuff of reconciliation. If. Dr. FitzGerald is serious in his plea to forget past bigotries, he might well make a beginning by taking his own advice.

[Cutting tipped into Michael Sheehy, Divided We Stand (London: Faber 1955) - copy of BS purchased in Coleraine c. 1990.]

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Conor Brady, review of Reflections on the Irish State (IAP), in The Irish Times (16 Nov. 2002), p.10: ‘[FitzGerald] opens his first essay “Irish independence: rationale and timing” with an anecdote concerning A. P. Ryan, a distinguished journalist with the Times. In 1962, Ryan was one of a number of correspondents who came to Dublin to report on Ireland’s application to join the EEC. When he met FitzGerald, he recalled that when he was previously in Ireland as a young journalist, in 1920, Garret’s father Desmond, then Director of Publicity for the underground Dáil government, had sought to convince him of the case for Ireland’s sovereign independence. Now, paradoxically, Ryan observed, Desmond’s son was seeking to persuade him that Ireland should give up at least a portion of that sovereignty in order to enter Europe. / “When I later reflected on the challenge that A. P. Ryan had thus posed to me”, FitzGerald writes, “I eventually became convinced that far from there being any contradiction between our demand for independence from Britain and our later accession to the European Community, Irish membership of the Europe.’ Brady synopsises the argument: ‘Had the 1916 rising not taken place, Ireland would have remained tied to the coat-tails of Britain’s dwindling economy, albeit with some rebalancing of wealth between the two islands. Our participation in Europe would not have been on the advantageous terms accorded to a sovereign state but those handed down to a region of the UK.’ Brady notes characteristic themes such as ‘the unusual demographics of the Irish state over the decades, the complex interdependencies and tensions between the churches and the political establishment, the oddities of the Irish party system and the bugbear of localism and clientism.’

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R. F. Foster, Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change 1970-2000 (London: Allen Lane: 2007), quotes Fitzgerald's remarks that from the 1960s Irish Catholic intellectuals like himself were more and more inclined to ‘do their own theology.’ (Ireland In the World: Further Reflections, 2006, p.230; Foster, op. cit., p.40.)

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Quotations
The ’RA (1): ‘[I]t took time for outsider observers to see that without the provision which postponed the start of decommissioning the IRA would never have allowed the Sinn Féin leadership to sign the Agreement. To have expected them to give way later on the very point on which their participation had depended was unrealistic.’ (‘What Happened to Good Friday?’, in London Review of Books, 2 Sept. 1999, pp.9-10, p.10.

The ’RA (2): ‘The at this stage the Sinn Féin leadership faces the fact that the strategy that they initiated almost a decade ago is about to run into the ground unless they can, reasonably soon, commit Sinn Féin and the IRA “exclusively to a peaceful path and an end to the existence of “the IRA as a paramilitary organisation” - to quote Tony Blair’s exact words. / It is encouraging that as recently as 10 days ago, on the Vincent Browne programme, Gerry Adams felt able to repeat that he envisages such a disbandment of the IRA as the eventual logical outcome of the peace process. [...] Because Adams and McGuinness will not lightly allow their decade of very hard work to prove fruitless, I am encouraged to believe that we may in fact now be much nearer to a successful outcome than many at this moment of discouragement believe. And I feel confirmed in that view by both the manner and the choice of language by Gerry Adams when interviewed by Vincent Browne last week. / Although necessarily constrained in that interview by the need to deny the criminal offence of IRA membership, and by the further need to retain his authority vis-a-vis his colleagues by not repudiating the quarter-century-long campaign of violence, nevertheless in that interview Adams sounded more like an emerging democratic politician - and, as someone remarked to me, more human - than in any previous encounter with the media.’ (‘SF will not allow its efforts to prove fruitless’, in The Irish Times, 19 Oct. 2002 [weekly column].)

Coping with Maggie : ‘[...] In initiating these negotiations with Margaret Thatcher in 1983-84 my objective was unambiguously to secure an outcome that would reverse the drift of nationalist support from the SDLP to Sinn Fein before it reached a level that might embolden the IRA to increase its violence to a scale that might precipitate a civil war in Northern Ireland . Such a reversal of political support might, I hoped, encourage Sinn Fein to realise the futility of their “Armalite and ballot box” strategy, and so to move towards the pursuit of their goals by exclusively democratic means. / We now know from Ed Moloney’s The Secret History of the IRA, and from Gerry Adams’s own statement shortly after the 1994 IRA ceasefire, that Adams had started to rethink his movement’s strategy just eight years earlier, in 1986; we also know, from an address by Sinn Féin spokesman Mitchell McLaughlin at University College Dublin several years ago, that the agreement was actually a precipitating factor in Sinn Féin’s initiation of the peace process. But this does not emerge from Jackson ’s reflections on its political impact.’ (The Guardian, 26 July 2003.)

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Slow Learners: The 4th John Hume Lecture was given by Garret FitzGerald [sic] at the MacGill Summer School, speaking on the theme: “Why did Irish history take so long, and where is it going?” In the course of his lecture, he said: ‘For 50 years, we had hugged our Southern grievance about the loss of “our” fourth green field, while showing remarkably little practical concern for the faith of those of our fellow nationalists who dwelt in that abandoned field. / Only the descent of the North into near-anarchy in the early 1970s forced us in the South, after several years of utter confusion, most belatedly to face reality. / In the North there were slow learners also. The unionist politicians and people sought to secure themselves against change by discriminatory and repressive policies that would eventually undermine completely their own moral position as a local, artificially contrived, majority. [... &c.]’ (The Irish Times, 19 July 2004.)

Unification?: ‘Need to reverse economic decline of North’ [in his column], The Irish Times (30 March 2005): ‘Even if political obstacles to Irish unification were at some time in the future to dissolve, the persistence of the present scale of financial dependence of Northern Ireland’s debilitated economy upon transfers from Britain would be likely to deter a majority of its people, whatever their political background, from abandoning the British connection. That is, of course, unless the people of the Republic were to agree to take over that burden. / And it seems to me certain that the Republic’s taxpayers would be unwilling to vote to accept responsibility for what would for them be a massive burden; one 15 times greater per head than that currently borne by the far larger number of taxpayers of Britain.’ [... &c.; see full text, infra.]

Political prisoners: review of Sean McConville, Irish Political Prisoners 1848-1922: Theatre of War (Routledge), in Guardian Weekly (10 April 2003), p.16, writes of Richard Hayes, med. Practitioner and later film censor, involved in battle of Ashbourne, 1916, who was transferred from Dartmoor to Maidstone with Desmond FitzGerald and Eamon de Valera, their feet chained together. Fitzgerald remarks that, while President, de Valera used ask him if his [Fitzgerald’s] father had been chained on his right or the left side, a ‘point on which, to his obvious distress, I could not enlighten him.’ Includes mention that George V, in an attempt to save the life of Terence McSwiney, wrote a follow-up telegram to Lloyd George departing from his usual third person and ending with the words ‘I still advocate clemency’.

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Sheer gain: ‘Had it not been for the opening of the Eurpean market to Irish-made products as a result of EC membership, none of these advantages, natural or policy-created, could have produced the kind of economic growth that Ireland has experienced during most of hte period since the 1960s - running well ahead of that of the rest of Europe during most of this period. It was the availability of this European market that intially created the scale of demand for labour in Ireland that eventually became such an extraordinary feature of the 1990s ... has there been any economic downside to our membership? Whilst one can argue that the rapidity of transformation of the [20] Irish economy from by far the poorest in Northern Europe to one of the most prosperous in what is now the European Union has created some social stresses and strains, in purely economic terms it has been almost all sheer gain.’ (‘The Economics of EU Membership’, [quoted in] in Jim Hourihane, Ireland and the European Union, pp.79-80; quoted in R. F. Foster, Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change 1970-2000, London: Allen Lane: 2007, pp.19-20.)

1916 Rising: ‘Has the Rising of 1916 an enduring significance for Ireland [...]? [Is it] still relevant to the very different Ireland of today - and, if so, what is its relevance?’ (Quoted in call for papers for “Irish Society, History & Culture: 100 Years After 1916”, a conference to be held at the European University Institute (EUI] by the Scuola Normale Superiore – Università di Firenze/Dipartimento di Lingue, Lettere e Studi interculturali, Florence, Italy - 12-14 Oct. 2016. Keynote speakers are Prof. Kieran Allan (UCD); Dr. Seán Crosson (NUIG); Dr. Niall Ó Dochartaigh (NUIG); Prof. Peter Shirlow (Liverpool U), and Prof. Jennifer Todd (UCD),

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References
PGIL Notice (2004): ‘Garret Fitzgerald has had careers in air transport, economic consultancy, university lecturing, journalism, politics and business. After graduating with a degree in history and modern languages and being called to the Irish Bar, the first twelve years of his working life were spent within the Irish national airline, Aer Lingus. At the age of 26 he became responsible for its economic planning, scheduling, and rates and fares.’ [See further, infra.]

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Notes
Kith & Kin: Both of Garret Fitzgerald's parents, Desmond and Mabel, were in the GPO at Easter 1916. The couple, who eloped together, were from Kerry; Mabel later worked in [Louise] Gavan Duffy’s school in Dublin. The memoirs now published as Desmond’s Rising (2006), written in the 1940s, were discovered by Garret Fitzgerald among his parents papers in 1966. (See Books Ireland, April 2006.)

A Close Shave: Shaw wrote to Mabel Fitgerald, the mother of Garret Fitzgerald, in 1914: ‘As to devoting myself to Ireland, I doubt whether Ireland would at all appreciate my services [...] The place is too small for me.’ (See Dan. H. Lawrence, ed., Bernard Shaw, Collected Letters 1911-1925, Max Rheinhardt [1985], quoted by Bernard Share, reviewing same, in Books Ireland, Oct. 1985, p.169.)

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Pricks & Prigs: Prof. John A. Murphy writes (The Irish Times, Letters, 6 Sept. 2006): ‘Madam, - For a mad moment there, watching the RTÉ interview with Dr Garret FitzGerald last Sunday week, I understood him to say he was “a good deal of a prick” in his younger days. And I thought, delightedly: what an endearing confession, what an admirable admission of human imperfection, and what an expression of the common touch. / Alas, how disappointed I was to learn from your Corrections column (August 29th) that all he had said was “prig”. And how priggish and humourless it was of him to insist on the correction, and to remind us so huffily that “he would never use such language”. - Yours, etc, John A. Murphy, Douglas Road, Cork.’ (Sent to ir-d@jiscmail.ac.uk by Piaras MacEinri.)

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Boston College, Mass.: Garret Fitzgerald (Chancellor/NUI) lectures on “Catholicism, the Gaelic Revival and the New State 1922-1949” at Boston College’s Connolly House on 3 March 2004.

New Ireland Forum: The Forum, inaugurated by Garret FitzGerald as Fine Gael Taoiseach, but latterly dominated by Charles Haughey (Fianna Fail) concluded on the basis of submissions that the most ‘desired option’ would be a 32-county state, followed by a federal arrangement and finally a joint-administration by Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland - the last-named having been proposed by Richard Kearney with Bernard Cullen. The response of Mrs Thatcher, as British Prime Minister, to the Report published in 1984 was her famous ‘out, out, out’ speech in which she successive ruled out the options presented by the Forum:

‘I have made it quite clear [...] that a unified Ireland was one solution that is out. A second solution was confederation of two states. That is out. A third solution was joint authority. That is out. That is a derogation from sovereignty. We made that quite clear when the Report was published. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. She is part of the United Kingdom because that is the wish of the majority of her citizens. The majority wish to stay part of the United Kingdom.’

In addition, several of those who submitted to the Forum deemed that their viewpoint had been overlooked - notably the McGimpsey brothers, Christopher and Michael. The Ulster Unionist Party responded to the Forum Report with a paper entitled The Way Forward (properly Devolution and the Northern Ireland Assembly: The Way Forward, 1984) which disparaged the Forum as a contradiction which lauded the principle of consent but denied it to the majority in Northern Ireland because there will was contrary to any of the proposed solutions mooted by the Forum or desired by the nationalists of Ireland. British politicians such as Jim Prior, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, commended its appreciation of the principle of consent, its condemnation of violence, and its “attempt to understand Unionist identity” - but damned its proposed solutions. [See Wikipedia > New Ireland Forum - online; and not that Richard Kearney (q.v.) and Bernard Cullen were among those who made submissions to the Forum.]

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Namesake: Dr. Garret A. Fitzgerald is the Irish-born clinical cardiologist and pharmacologist whose tests and publications revealed that the companies Merck and Pfizer had marketted Vioxx and other COX-2 inhibitors aimed at reducing arthritis inflammation which had counter-effects on cardio-vascular health with particular risks to bypass patients. (See Irish Edition [US] , “[...] Whistle Blower, Summa Cum Laude” July 2005, p.6.)

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