- Category : 1926-births
- Type : PE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (12,35)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 1
Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of the Republic of Ireland.
FitzGerald was elected to the Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann) in 1965 and was subsequently elected to the Dáil as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He served as Foreign Affairs Minister from 1973 to 1977. FitzGerald was the leader of Fine Gael between 1977 and 1987. He was the son of Desmond FitzGerald, the first Minister for External Affairs of the Irish Free State following independence in 1922.
Socially liberal, he advocated a liberalisation of Irish society, to create what he called the non-sectarian nation of "Tone and Davis". His attempt to introduce divorce was defeated in a referendum, although he did liberalise Ireland's contraception laws. A controversial 'Pro-Life Amendment' (anti-abortion clause), which was stated to recognise the 'Right to Life of the Unborn, with due regard to the Equal Right to Life of the Mother' was added to the Irish constitution, against FitzGerald's advice, in a national referendum.
FitzGerald set up The New Ireland Forum in 1983, which brought together representatives of the constitutional political parties in the Republic and the nationalist SDLP from Northern Ireland. Although the Unionist parties spurned his invitation to join, and the Forum's conclusions proposing various forms of association between Northern Ireland and the Republic were rejected outright by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Forum provided the impetus for the resumption of serious negotiations between the Irish and British governments, which culminated in the Anglo-Irish Agreement of November 1985. This agreement provided for a mechanism by which the Republic of Ireland could be consulted by the British Government under Margaret Thatcher regarding the governance of Northern Ireland, and was bitterly opposed by Unionists in Northern Ireland, whose MPs all resigned their seats in the British Parliament in protest. During this period, on 15 March 1984, he was also invited to address a joint session of the US Congress, the fourth Irish leader to do so.
His government had also passed the Extradition Act of 1987, which ended the long-standing defence against extradition of suspects who could plead that an act of violence in Northern Ireland or Britain was a political offence.
While the Agreement was repudiated and condemned by Unionists, it was said to become the basis for developing trust and common action between the governments, which in time would ultimately bring about the Downing Street Declaration of 1993, and the subsequent republican and loyalist cease-fires.
Fitzgerald was a noted economist, university lecturer and long-time columnist for the Irish Times. At the time of his death, he was the President of the Institute of International and European Affairs.
Fitzgerald was regarded as an honest politician at a time when there was a lot of corruption in Irish politics, notably under the leadership of Charles Haughey and the Fianna Fail Party. Fitzgerald was personally popular and regarded as slightly eccentric, sartorially untidy and often seen wearing odd socks.