History of Fine Gael - Garret FitzGerald

Garret FitzGerald

Cosgrave resigned the leadership and was replaced by Garret FitzGerald. FitzGerald had been a successful Minister for Foreign Affairs in the National Coalition, his affable style and liberal views doing much to change the stereotypical European view of Ireland (and perhaps Ireland's of itself). FitzGerald was one of Ireland's most popular politicians and son of Desmond FitzGerald, a Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for External Affairs. He moved Fine Gael leftwards to the centre ground and promoted the so-called Liberal Agenda. He also founded the autonomous youth movement Young Fine Gael, while the party attracted thousands of new members. Fine Gael seemed trendy under FitzGerald's leadership (for instance, U2 endorsed them at this time). Fine Gael's revitalisation was on such a scale that by the November 1982 general election, Fine Gael was only five seats behind Fianna Fáil in Dáil Éireann and bigger than its rival in the Oireachtas as a whole (i.e., counting the number of representatives in both houses of parliament). As Taoiseach, FitzGerald attempted to create a more pluralist Republic. In 1985 after lengthy negotiations he succeeded in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement. This gave the Republic a say in the affairs of Northern Ireland while improving the Anglo-Irish relationship. Nevertheless, Fine Gael under Fitzgerald failed to control spiralling emigration and unemployment, though the intransigence of Labour leader Dick Spring with regard to taxation and public spending did not help. FitzGerald headed three governments: 1981 – February 1982, 1982 – 1987, and a short-lived Fine Gael minority government when Labour withdrew from the previous coalition as tensions had developed between the coalition partners over how to tackle the economy. In 1987 the party was defeated heavily in the general election of that year. FitzGerald resigned and his close ally and former Minister for Finance Alan Dukes replaced him, but continued to lead the party in the same socially democratic vein

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Garret FitzGerald - Governments
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