Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday he was praying for Dr FitzGerald to pull through, saying he was an “Irish institution”.
Dr FitzGerald is understood to be in Dublin’s Mater Hospital and his family have been called to his side. It’s believed his exact illness is unclear but tests are continuing.
“I spoke to Garret a few weeks back in the Shelbourne when he received another doctorate and I’m aware from communications [on Wednesday that] he is in hospital and he is on a ventilator and I know that his family have been called to his side,” Mr Kenny said.
“I hope that the medical assistance being given to him now will help him come through these difficulties he’s having.
“I say a prayer for his health and wellbeing. I hope that he makes it through; he’s an Irish institution that we don’t deserve to lose at this stage.”
Mr Kenny was speaking in New York during a two-day visit to the city to promote Ireland’s economic reputation.
Dr FitzGerald, 85, has continued to play a hugely active role in Irish public life despite the fact he retired from politics in 1992.
A columnist for The Irish Times and prolific author, Dr FitzGerald also frequently appears on TV and radio programmes, most recently on RTÉ’s Saturday Night Show last month.
Indeed, his media appearances have in the past irritated Mr Kenny’s handlers because Dr FitzGerald’s views did not necessarily chime with Fine Gael’s policy positions.
But following Mr Kenny’s elevation as taoiseach, Dr FitzGerald praised him warmly in his column.
“I thought Enda Kenny was most impressive — both in the warmth and genuine feeling he conveyed in his two speeches, and also in his brisk handling of his exchanges with Micheál Martin,” Dr FitzGerald wrote of Mr Kenny’s Dáil performance on the day he was appointed taoiseach.
Dr FitzGerald was Fine Gael leader from 1977 to 1987, serving two spells as taoiseach, from June 1981 to March 1982 and from December 1982 to March 1987. He was Foreign Affairs Minister in the 1973-1977 government.