'A great leader of the Irish people'


Prominent international figures have paid tribute to Dr Garret FitzGerald who passed away this morning following a short illness.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said it was with “great sadness” that he learned of the death of Dr. Garret FitzGerald.

In a message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Barroso described the former taoiseach as "a great leader of the Irish people and a committed and outstanding European”.

Mr Barroso said: "Throughout his life Dr. FitzGerald was a passionate advocate of Ireland’s active membership of the European Union."

"We will remember him for the central role he played both in Ireland and in Irish-European relations, but also for his convictions, his brilliance, his energy and his friendliness."

"On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family and friends and to the people of Ireland on the loss of this eminent statesman. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

Queen Elizabeth has issued a message of condolence on the death of Garret FitzGerald.

The Queen said she was "saddened" to hear of the death of Garret FitzGerald. She described his as "a true statesman" who made "a lasting contribution to peace" and "will be greatly missed".

In a message to President Mary McAleese, the Queen said: “He made a lasting contribution to peace and will be greatly missed. Please will you convey my sincere condolences to his family.”

British prime minister David Cameron, who attended the Queen’s speech at a state dinner in Dublin Castle last night, also paid tribute to Dr FitzGerald.

“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,” said Mr Cameron

“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.” he added.

President of the European People's Party (EPP) and former prime minister of Belgium, Wilfried Martens, said: "I am very saddened by the loss of my good friend and colleague Garret FitzGerald - he was a great Irish statesman and a great European.

"In the European Council, we worked together to bring to an end the period of economic and political “eurosclerosis”, with the adoption in 1986 of the Single European Act, which re-launched the integration drive by framing Europe's single market."

He said Dr FitzGerald continued, until very recently, to be "an outspoken champion of the European Union in Ireland".

"I know I speak for the entire European People’s Party, when I say that Garret FitzGerald will be deeply missed. His family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers."