Saturday 18 November 2017

'No man worked harder'


FORMER MINISTER of State for Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald's two governments, Michael D'Arcy Snr. this week paid tribute to the late Taoiseach, describing him as a 'friend' and a ' kind, decent honourable and good man'.

'I first met Garret in the mid 1960s,' said the Gorey Town Councillor. 'Garret came to Annagh with his lifetime friends Jim Dooge and Alexis Fitzgerald. They were on the Seanad Eireann election campaign trail.'

He recalled how Garret stood for the Seanad in 1965 and was successful. ' This was no mean feat as he wasn't a sitting Councillor,' said Michael. 'I gave him my full support on that occasion and knew he would go to the very top.'

'It was obvious to me even after our first meeting that he was a person of huge intelligence and ability,' he added. ' What I was later to learn was the only quality to surpass those traits was his integrity. His political pedigree was impeccable.

'Both parents fought in the GPO in 1916, but it seems to have been forgotten that Garret was a true republican in the French and American model. His social conscience led him to achieve a change in the thinking of civil servants and politicians alike.'

Michael described his former leader as ' a man probably before his time.'

'He joined an extremely conservative party Fine Gael in the 1960s and attempted to change the mindset from within,' he recalled. 'His rise was meteoric with one term in the Seanad and then one term in Dail Eireann.

His appointment to Foreign Affairs was unexpected. Many assumed he would be appointed to the Department of Finance. This was not to be and he threw himself into his brief with the usual gusto. His energy ability and intelligence led our Republic into the EEC in the early 1970s.'

Michael said that when Garrett Fitzgerald took over as leader of Fine Gael, he attracted a new type of politician for the 1980s. This led to two terms as Taoiseach in that decade.

'As part of both Governments I met him twice weekly and saw his work ethic at close quarters,' said Michael.

'No man that I have ever known worked harder or better. In particular his achievement of the Anglo Irish Agreement has led directly to the events of this week with the visit of Queen Elizabeth to our state.'

'It is with huge sadness to have heard of the death of my friend,' he concluded. 'My memory of him is of a kind decent honourable and good man. May he rest in peace.'

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