No man or woman — and especially no Irish politician — who takes on the mucky business of leading a political party and a government can expect to sail through his or her career without critics and, from time to time, enemies.
Liam Cosgrave — elected FG leader in 1965, taoiseach in the coalition government from 1973 to 1977 — had his fair share. With a lineage that sprang directly from the foundations of the Irish Free State he could have been in no doubt about the occupational hazards ahead when as a young man he moved from the relative comforts of the Bar to rougher chambers in the Dáil.
The tributes paid to him rightly highlight his contributions to the search for peace in the North, his courageous opposition to terrorism, his defence of democracy, his work in putting an independent Ireland on the international map at the United Nations and in Europe and, perhaps most significantly, his readiness when necessary to place the demands of his conscience above those of party and easy convenience.
Especially noteworthy is Mr Varadkar’s description of Liam Cosgrave: “He was authentic in every way.” His death reminds us of an age when significant politicians plied their trade without spin, image consultants, inane tweets, glib soundbites, and public relations drivel.
In the Western world at least, they lived honest, private lives, eschewing the perks and temptations of power. What you saw was what you got, and in Liam Cosgrave Ireland had a straight and serious man.
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