“He was a giant among men, both in terms of his brilliant academic mind and his innate political ability. The people across all political divides have benefited from his brilliance, his honesty and his goodness,” local Fine Gael TD James Bannon said of Garret FizGerald last week. Mr FitzGerald passed away after a short illness early on Thursday of last week.
“The people of Longford/Westmeath shared the nation’s grief and sense of deep loss.”
The local TD went on to say that one of his most vivid memories of the late Taoiseach was of him standing on the steps of Longford Courthouse in the 1970s at an election rally, addressing a large gathering of people and “in the manner of Michael Collins, whose amazing financial acumen Garret Fitzgerald shared”.
Deputy Bannon went on to say that later in his own political career, when he was involved in the campaign to save the courthouse “the image of these two giants of Irish political life was to the forefront of my mind.”
“Garret FitzGerald was the conquering hero of Irish politics in the 1970s and 1980s. His drive and commitment was to bring to fruition the vision of the first Dáil with regard to our place in Europe and on the world stage. No one contributed more to the strengthening of relations between north and south than Dr FitzGerald, a legacy that makes him the leading political mind of his generation.”
Deputy Bannon said that the legacy “lived on in a very real and positive way” and had been demonstrated by the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland last week.
“This was more than the culmination of his life’s work and a fitting tribute to him. Ireland has lost a faithful friend and we in Longford/Westmeath mourn his passing, while celebrating his contribution to modern Ireland.”
Former Longford TD, Louis Belton, told the Leader, “I served in the Dail from ‘89 to ‘92 with Garrett and at that stage he was a backbencher so I got to know him fairly well. He was always great company and a most interesting man that we all admired.
“Part of his legacy was there to be seen this week when peace and progress in Ireland was obvious to all. I extend my sympathy to his family Mary, John and Mark.”