Northern Ireland

Reaction to Garret FitzGerald's death

Former Irish prime minister Garret FitzGerald has died in hospital in Dublin after a short illness.

Fine Gael's Mr FitzGerald, who was 85, served twice as taoiseach between 1981 and 1987 at the head of two coalition governments.

THE QUEEN

"I am saddened to hear this morning's news of the death of Garret FitzGerald.

"A true statesman, he made a lasting contribution to peace and will be greatly missed. Please will you convey my sincere condolences to his family."

NORTHERN IRELAND FIRST MINISTER PETER ROBINSON

"I met with him on a number of occasions in turbulent times though those encounters were always conducted on the most friendly and courteous basis.

"Dr Fitzgerald and I disagreed profoundly on many things, especially the Anglo-Irish Agreement, but he never allowed political difference to become a bar to personal relations."

NI DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MARTIN MCGUINNESS

"My dealings with him only came in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement and the regular visits he made to the Patrick Magill Summer School (held in Glenties, County Donegal) and I think he and I got on very well.

"I think at the end of day, he was someone very conscious there were very many different views and that's why he came to Glenties."

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

"He always struck me as someone who is a statesman as well as a politician, as someone who was in politics for all the right reasons and someone who made a huge contribution to the peace process and bringing reconciliation for all that had happened in the past.

"And, I think, I hope today of all days with the state visit and the warm relationship between Britain and Ireland that he can see that some of his work has been completed."

FORMER SDLP LEADER AND NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER JOHN HUME

"A moderniser and reformer, Garret helped change the face of Irish politics for the better and he enthusiastically embraced Europe and the opportunities it afforded our island.

"He displayed great intellectual foresight and inner fortitude to develop initiatives such as the New Ireland Forum and the Anglo-Irish Agreement which allowed us to open new chapters in our history and ultimately paved the way to peace and the democratic institutions we enjoy today."

CARDINAL SEAN BRADY, CATHOLIC PRIMATE OF IRELAND

"As a cabinet minister and taoiseach he was a reforming politician.

"He will be remembered for a profound commitment to social justice issues and in particular for his support for the New Ireland Forum and the Anglo Irish Agreement."

IRISH PRESIDENT MARY MCALEESE

"Above all, Garret FitzGerald was a true public servant. Steeped in the history of the State, he constantly strove to make Ireland a better place for all its people.

"Garret was a persuasive voice for progressive reform."

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY

"Garret FitzGerald was a remarkable man who made a remarkable contribution to Irish life.

"His towering intellect, his enthusiasm for life, his optimism for politics was always balanced by his humility, his warmth, his bringing to public life of a real sense of dignity and integrity and his interest being focused entirely on his people and on the country."

FIANNA FAIL LEADER MICHEAL MARTIN

"Garret FitzGerald has made an enormous contribution to Irish politics and to our wider society.

"He was an implacable opponent of those who espoused violence as a means to a lasting political solution on this island and he worked sincerely towards building an Ireland free of conflict."

ALLIANCE PARTY LEADER DAVID FORD

"He was very courageous when he led the Republic of Ireland at a very difficult time."

FORMER NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY OF STATE LORD KING

"We had some quite tough discussions at times, but he was man of great intelligence, considerable personal kindness and determined to find a peaceful way through our problems - and there were many at that time."

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