State funeral for former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald

Thu, May 19, 2011, 01:00

Former taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald, who died this morning aged 85, will be given a full State funeral, it has been confirmed.

Dr FitzGerald's remains will lie in repose at the Mansion House in Dublin on Saturday to allow members of the public pay their respects and sign a book of condolence.

He will be buried at Shanganagh cemetery following a funeral Mass in Donnybrook on Sunday afternoon.

President Mary McAleese today led tributes to Dr FitzGerald, who died following a short illness.

Dr FitzGerald served two terms as taoiseach. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969 after previously serving in Seanad Éireann, to which he was elected in 1965. He served as taoiseach from July 1981 to February 1982 and from December 1982 to June 1987. During his time as taoiseach he negotiated the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

Dr FitzGerald was pre-deceased by his wife, Joan, and is survived by his sons, John and Mark, and his daughter, Mary.

His family today thanked the doctors, nurses and staff at the Mater Private hospital in Dublin for the care he received during his illness.

They said he was a "much loved and adored father, grandfather and great-grandfather and will be sadly missed by his extended family". Details of funeral arrangements are to be announced later.

Mrs McAleese said she was deeply saddened by the death of Dr FitzGerald, adding he "lived his life with total integrity, unrelenting purpose and an unquenchable concern for the welfare of Ireland and its citizens".

"Garret was the Renaissance man of our time. His thoughtful writing, distinctive voice and probing intellect all combined to make him one of our national treasures. 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 added.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny described Dr FitzGerald as "a truly remarkable man who made a truly remarkable contribution to Ireland".

"His towering intellect and enthusiasm for life will be missed by by all and especially by people in Fine Gael," said Mr Kenny.

“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," he added.

Former Fine Gael taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, who appointed Dr FitzGerald as Minister for Foreign Affairs said his important work in Europe was “reflected in benefits to the Irish economy”.

“After he retired from politics he wrote and talked about current and past events with an idiosyncratic fluency which he enjoyed to his satisfaction.

“He showed exemplary care and kindness to his wife, Joan, by his continuing solicitude over a long period while she was in indifferent health.

“Vera joins me in offering our sympathy to his family and relatives,” Mr Cosgrave said.

Former President Mary Robinson said Dr. FitzGerald was a "moral as well as a political leader of great integrity".

"The life of service and scholarship he lived and the way he committed himself to so many activities long past usual retirement age endeared him to Irish people, young and old."