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A Call to the Unionists

Garret FitzGerald, 12 March 1992

... Tom Wilson’s insight as a moderate Unionist into the Northern Ireland tragedy and his critique of my involvement with these events offers useful balance to my – inevitably – somewhat different position on these matters. There are, however, some points in his review upon which I should like to comment. First, as to Sunningdale. Professor Wilson says that I do not discuss what he describes as an ‘intensification’ of the IRA’s campaign arising from that Agreement ...

What happened to Good Friday?

Garret FitzGerald, 2 September 1999

... Last year’s Good Friday Agreement arose out of what had effectively become a stalemate in Northern Ireland. At one time the security forces had believed they could defeat the Provisional IRA, but the methods by which they sought to do so proved counter-productive. A police force drawn, for whatever reasons, from one side of the community only, and inevitably identifying with that side, could not command sufficient support, or even acceptance, on the other side to isolate and defeat a terrorist organisation like the Provisionals ...

Can we have our money back?

Garret FitzGerald, 24 October 1991

The Unresolved Question 
by Nicholas Mansergh.
Yale, 386 pp., £18.95, October 1991, 0 300 05069 0
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... The subtitle of this book is ‘The Anglo-Irish Settlement and its Undoing 1912-1973’. But the great bulk of the book is devoted to the settlement itself – the Treaty of 1921, its background and its immediate aftermath. By contrast, the section on the undoing of the settlement is relatively brief: indeed, the period from the declaration of a republic in 1949 to the fall of Stormont in 1972 is dealt with by way of an epilogue of ten short pages, and even the treatment of the earlier events of 1948-49 is relatively cursory ...

Preconditions for an Irish Peace

Garret FitzGerald, 8 November 1979

... When Ireland was divided politically by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, this event was taken much less seriously by most Irish people than might have been expected in view of the generation-long political turmoil that had preceded it. The decision was taken in an effort to reconcile the divergent aspirations of the Nationalist majority in the island as a whole and of the Unionist minority largely concentrated in the six north-eastern counties ...

When Ireland Became Divided

Garret FitzGerald: The Free State’s Fight for Recognition, 21 January 1999

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Vol. I: 1919-22 
edited by Ronan Fanning.
Royal Irish Academy and Department of Foreign Affairs, 548 pp., £30, October 1998, 1 874045 63 1
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... including my parents, held in the archives of University College Dublin. My father, Desmond FitzGerald, was Director, later Minister for Publicity, for most of the period and during the last few months of 1922 was minister in charge of the combined Foreign Affairs and Publicity Departments, under the new description ‘External Affairs’. The Irish ...

On (Not) Saying What You Mean

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 1995

... only two to three people spoke like that and they were solicitors and high up in Fine Gael – Garret FitzGerald’s party, John Bruton’s party. (My family was in Fianna Fáil.) It was easy to see why they admired O’Connell and Parnell, and were happier reading Hansard than the list of names on coffin ships. A whole generation, who had benefited ...

Talking about Northern Ireland

Tom Wilson, 27 February 1992

All in a Life 
by Garret FitzGerald.
Macmillan, 674 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 333 47034 6
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... that the Irish tragedy can be ended only by political means. In this political autobiography, Dr Garret FitzGerald gives a fascinating account of his own attempts to contribute to this end. It was a role for which he seemed better-equipped than any other party leader in the Republic. His political lineage as a nationalist was impeccable: both his ...

So much for shame

Colm Tóibín, 10 June 1993

Haughey: His Life and Unlucky Deeds 
by Bruce Arnold.
HarperCollins, 299 pp., £17.50, May 1993, 0 00 255212 4
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... Dublin where he studied commerce, and becoming an accountant. Among his university friends – as Garret FitzGerald, the leader of Fine Gael from 1977 to 1987, has pointed out in a review of this book – were the sons of three Fianna Fail ministers. FitzGerald’s own father had been a minister in the first government ...


Julian Girdham: Mansergh v. Arnold, 21 June 1984

... is an FF election poster parodying Kitchener’s finger-pointing interrogation: ‘Thatcher wants Garret. Do you?’ Mansergh starts with an hors d’oeuvre of factual errors, moves on to the ‘narrowly party-political’ slant of the book, and then settles down with relish to the main course. Skinned down to its spine, this accuses Arnold of propagating ...

Partnership of Loss

Roy Foster: Ireland since 1789, 13 December 2007

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 
by Paul Bew.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, August 2007, 978 0 19 820555 5
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... pioneered by Lemass, adhered to by the underestimated Jack Lynch, and pursued most eloquently by Garret Fitzgerald. Charles Haughey, who had tried to arm the Provisional IRA in 1969, later claimed that he played a key part in what would be called ‘the peace process’, but this now seems as threadbare as his reputation in other spheres. His attitude ...

‘Thanks a million, big fella’

Daniel Finn: After Ahern, 31 July 2008

... it impossible for Fianna Fáil to continue to blame them for its own actions. The former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald declared that the vote on the Lisbon Treaty was ‘more class-divided than any other’ in modern Irish history. It seems that the majority of those who voted against were from the lower social strata. ‘You could possibly see the ...

What can the matter be?

Denis Donoghue, 5 April 1990

Ulster Politics: The Formative Years, 1868-86 
by B.M. Walker.
Ulster Historical Foundation/Institute of Irish Studies, 327 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 901905 40 2
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Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society 
by J.J. Lee.
Cambridge, 754 pp., £55, January 1990, 0 521 26648 3
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... that the Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed on 15 November 1985 by Mrs Thatcher and the Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, is unconstitutional; that is, in breach of the 1937 Constitution. Thatcher and Fitzgerald solemnly agreed that no change could occur in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the consent ...

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Clair Wills: Modern Irish History, 3 July 2008

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change c.1970-2000 
by R.F. Foster.
Penguin, 228 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 0 14 101765 5
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... in the North and the grown-ups. The opposition is clearest in the contrast between Haughey and Garret FitzGerald. FitzGerald (‘Gladstone to Haughey’s Disraeli’) is in many ways the hero of this book. He is presented as the true heir of the pragmatic, far-sighted policies of Seán Lemass and Jack Lynch (hinting ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast, 9 January 1992

... It attacks colonialism, revisionism, the Republic’s inertia, Churchill, British governments, Garret FitzGerald and Ian Paisley, while managing not to criticise Gerry Adams, fawning upon John Hume, and eulogising Charles Haughey – currently the object of scandalised enquiry – if with veiled threat: ‘Haughey has still to show that he knows where ...


Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath, 22 July 2010

Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... Council, which they regarded as a preliminary step to a united Ireland. A year or so later, Garret FitzGerald, the Irish foreign minister, was asked why they had not warned the British team that the All-Ireland Council was a step too far. FitzGerald, charmingly and not unreasonably, replied: ‘We didn’t think ...

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