I was informed early this morning of the death of former colleague and friend Dr Garret FitzGerald.

As Taoiseach and as Leader of Fine Gael I extend our deepest sympathy to his children John, Mark, Mary and to his extended family.

Garret FitzGerald was a truly remarkable man who made a truly remarkable contribution to Ireland. As Taoiseach, Minister and Leader of Fine Gael, Garret FitzGerald made an unparalleled contribution to public life in Ireland.  His towering intellect, his enthusiasm for life and his optimism for politics will be missed by all and especially by people in Fine Gael.

Garret FitzGerald was a true patriot, an icon of decency and high honour in public life, whose fluency in economics was balanced by the humility, generosity and warmth of his personal and family life.A leading academic, Garret turned his back on private wealth to have, instead, a passionate devotion to public Ireland.His commitment to achieving peace and reconciliation on this island, and between Ireland and Britain, reached its fruition this week on the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland.  I know that he had hoped to be present at Dublin Castle last night but his illness prevented him from doing so.

He had a deep understanding of Ireland’s capacity to influence international affairs through cooperation and partnership and he was particularly committed to developing his country’s role in the European Union.If there is a consolation, it is that his leave-taking was as gentle as his life and the way he lived it.

Ni bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

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