State Papers: FitzGerald declined to host reception for Soroptimists

Despite plan made with women’s charity, event clashed with bank holiday weekend

 Garret FitzGerald with Nuala Fennell, who was the minister of state for women’s affairs. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

Garret FitzGerald with Nuala Fennell, who was the minister of state for women’s affairs. Photograph: Eddie Kelly

 

Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald had agreed to host a State reception for charitable organisation Soroptimist International, but when he could no longer do it, there was a dispute over who should take his place, State papers show.

The women’s charity was holding its international conference in Dublin in October 1985, with over 1,500 members attending. Its Irish branch had sought a State reception at Dublin Castle.

A note on the taoiseach’s file from an official to FitzGerald in January 1985 said that in 1983, he had agreed to host it, but the only date that suited the charity was October 25th, the Friday of a bank holiday weekend.

“ . . . perhaps you would clarify whether you still wish to host the reception,” the official said. “If you do not wish to, we can ask minister of state for women’s affairs Nuala Fennell, in view of the fact the aims of the Soroptimists are to maintain high ethical standards in business and professional life . . . ”

A handwritten note at the end of the document said “Taoiseach won’t do it, proposes to ask Nuala unless Peter Barry wants to”.

A letter from November 30th, 1985, was also on file, to then tánaiste Dick Spring, from Muriel Bowers, president of the Soroptimists in Ireland and Britain. It thanked him for hosting “a most enjoyable and glamorous night” at Dublin Castle.