Tributes as former taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald dies

The leaders of Britain and Ireland have paid tribute to former taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald who has died after a short illness.

The politician, journalist and economist, who led two governments in the 1980s and fought tirelessly to cement close ties between the two states, died in a Dublin hospital.



Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who had an early-morning meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron in the Irish capital, said Dr FitzGerald's only concern was for the people and the country of Ireland.



"Garret FitzGerald was a remarkable man who made a remarkable contribution to Irish life," he said.



"His towering intellect, his enthusiasm for life, his optimism for politics was always balanced by his humility, his warmth, his bringing to public life of a real sense of dignity and integrity, and his interest being focused entirely on his people and on the country.



"He will be judged as being a true republican who was an icon of decency and high honour in public life. The fluency of his economics was always balanced by the humility and generosity and warmth of his personal and family life.



"He had an eternal optimism for what could be achieved in politics. You could not tire him out and his belief that politics and democracy would work for peace."



Mr Kenny also said his former Fine Gael party leader would have been happy to hear the Queen address Ireland last night as part of her state visit.



"To see the work that he had done over very many years, and indeed his father (Desmond) before him, have played their part in putting the jigsaw of peace together."



Mr Cameron, who attended the Queen's speech at a state dinner in Dublin Castle last night, said he watched Dr FitzGerald when he was a student of politics, rather than someone involved in politics.



"He always struck me as someone who was a statesman, as well as a politician, someone who was in politics for all the right reasons and someone who made a huge contribution to the peace process and bringing reconciliation for all that had happened in the past," the Prime Minister said.



"I hope today of all days, with the state visit and the warm relationship between Britain and Ireland that he can see, that some of his work has been completed."



Referred to as "Garret the Good" by colleagues and opponents alike, his death was announced in a short family statement from his children John, Mark and Mary.



"The family of Dr Garret FitzGerald are sad to announce that he has passed away this morning after a short illness," it said.



He had been undergoing treatment in the Mater private hospital over the last few weeks.



Funeral details are to be released at a later date, his family said.



The Irish Tricolour was flying at half-mast over Leinster House parliament building today.



Dr FitzGerald died two months after his Fine Gael party returned to power with a resounding electoral success.



His name will go down in history for striking the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement with former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, which tied the two countries to closer co-operation on Northern Ireland.



President Mary McAleese said he was the Renaissance man of our time and a national treasure.



"Above all, Garret FitzGerald was a true public servant. Steeped in the history of the State, he constantly strove to make Ireland a better place for all its people," she said.



"Garret was a persuasive voice for progressive reform. As minister for foreign affairs, he anchored Ireland's place at the heart of Europe and enhanced our national reputation in the world, and, as taoiseach, he courageously led the debate for a more tolerant and inclusive Ireland.



"His crowning achievement in politics was his negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which was a key milestone on the road to peace and partnership politics in Northern Ireland."



She added: "I offer my deepest condolences to all of them on their very sad loss and hope they will derive some consolation from the knowledge that Garret lived his life with total integrity, unrelenting purpose and an unquenchable concern for the welfare of Ireland and its citizens."



Politicians on all sides added their sympathies, including Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who said Dr FitzGerald served with great intelligence, decency and commitment.



"Garret FitzGerald has made an enormous contribution to Irish politics and to our wider society," Mr Martin said.



"He was a hard-working politician of compassion and ability. He was a prolific journalist of insight and understanding. He was a brilliant academic of versatility and knowledge.



"He was an implacable opponent of those who espoused violence as a means to a lasting political solution on this island and he worked sincerely towards building an Ireland free of conflict.



"He was a person who cared deeply about Ireland and he has given distinguished and patriotic service to our people."



Sinn Fein president and Louth TD Gerry Adams offered his condolences to family and friends.



Airline Aer Lingus, where Dr FitzGerald began his career and where the legend was born that they took on four men and a computer to replace him, said he would be sadly missed.



A company spokesman said: "Aer Lingus sincerely regrets the passing of our former colleague Dr Garret FitzGerald and would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his family.



"Without any of the modern-day analysis tools, Dr FitzGerald brought his keen economic mind to bear on how best to plan and utilise aircraft, laying the foundations for the future success of the airline in this important area."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn