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Posted 13 February 2012

Garret FitzGerald ‘guide and mentor’ to Ireland

In his active retirement, the late Garret FitzGerald acted as ‘a guide and mentor for this country that he loved so much’, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said at the first annual Garret FitzGerald Spring School at University College Dublin.

“Garret died at a time when a goal he had done so much to achieve – peace on our Island – was sealed by a highly successful State visit of Queen Elizabeth.”

“There is no doubt that when historians assess the history of Ireland over the last half century, Garret FitzGerald’s name will be held in the highest esteem for many reasons, and most of all for his dedication to seeking a lasting solution in Northern Ireland.”

Listen to lecture by former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson at first annual Garret FitzGerald Spring School at University College Dublin.

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Paying tribute to Garret FitzGerald, Mrs Robinson continued to outline his other contributions to politics and people both in Ireland and across the world.

“He was the first Foreign Minister to bring Foreign Policy into the central role that it should and does occupy today,” she said.

“He also brought many bright, young people into the department inspired by his vision of an Ireland that could hold its own in Europe and more broadly.”

According to Mrs Robinson, FitzGerald made it clear at an early stage as Minister that ‘improving Ireland’s performance in delivering official development assistance to the poorest countries in the world was one of his top priorities’.

“Until 1973, Ireland had a poor record on official development assistance, private donations were always generous, and Irish missionaries made a huge contribution in the fields of education and health but Governmental aid, that is support for long term projects and disasters response, was extremely small,” she said.

“Garret FitzGerald changed all that.”

Mrs Robinson said that FitzGerald would likely today be concerned with climate change and its effects on the poorest peoples in the least developed countries across the world.
“In all the challenges we face we can derive support from the example that Garret FitzGerald set for us,” she said.

“We can draw inspiration from the memory of Garret FitzGerald, but I’m sure that he would be the first to say that in the end we must find the courage to take the necessary measures to face future challenges ourselves.”


UCD Garret FitzGerald Spring School

Garret FitzGerald had a deeply-rooted commitment to the role of the university, and to University College Dublin in particular, where he studied and lectured, as well as the National University of Ireland of which he was Chancellor.

To reflect that relationship, an annual series of ‘Spring Schools’ named in his honour was initiated by University College Dublin. The first annual Garret FitzGerald Spring School at University College Dublin was hosted by the UCD College of Human Sciences and supported by the Irish Times. The theme for the two-day programme was ‘Democracy in the 21st Century’, focussing on his legacy, on democracy in the European Union, on human rights and the common good, and on trust and the media.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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