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Truly deserving of our praise?

I HAVE scanned and devoured newspapers by the cubic metre in a frustrating attempt to find genuine reasons behind the plaudits that described former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald as the greatest Irishman, a national treasure, the renaissance man, a towering intellect, a true statesman, Garret the good, a real inspiration.

He was also attributed to possessing qualities such as to be involved in a vivid intellectual engagement, (rules me out) another one was, his lucidity as a statistician to analyse the country’s problems in depth, last but not least, his phenomenal command of statistical detail.

No disrespect to the dead but all these glowing attributes just do not square the picture for me. Any politician who dithers and dawdles in the hot seat, as Garret has done under the withering glare of Margaret Thatcher, is one of the reasons I trawled the newspapers to find something concrete in an effort that would enable me to say, yes he was all or some of the above mentioned plaudits. Unfortunately, I would have to bunch him together with all other failed Fine Gael politicians of our time, who failed the country — Liam Cosgrave, John Bruton and Alan Dukes.

Yes, the intended were to make a difference, but did they? Fine Gael took office with Labour in a minority coalition in 1981 and watched as fellow Irish men were dying on hunger strike. And faced a similar lack of finances inherited from Fianna Fáil as the Taoiseach and present leader of Fine Gael Enda Kenny faces today.

What goes around comes around. Thirty years later and we’re back at the starting block of the merry-go round that includes the EU that FitzGerald was such a staunch proponent of, and has left every man, woman and child on this island beholden to. Will it be Kenny’s turn next to join my accumulated bunch of nearly men? We will have to wait and see how he earns his plaudits.

The contentious visit by the queen and the much welcomed and successful homecoming visit by Barack Obama may be his saving grace in the short term.

Once the dust has settled, paying taxpayers’ money and raiding pension funds to feed the gambling habits of the powerful bond holders that seem to have a monopoly sanctioned by Brussels may be what he will be remembered for.

Will someone more literate than me, in future years trawl through the papers as I have done, trying to find out if plaudits accredited by friends are justified or not?

J Woods

Gort an Choirce

Dun nGall


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