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Summary Article: FitzGerald, Garret Michael from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Irish politician, leader of the Fine Gael party 1977–87. As Taoiseach (prime minister) 1981–82 and 1982–87, he attempted to solve the Northern Ireland dispute, ultimately by participating in the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. He tried to remove some of the overtly Catholic features of the constitution to make the Republic more attractive to Northern Protestants. He stepped down as Fine Gael leader after the party lost the 1987 general election to Fianna Fáil and Charles Haughey replaced him as Taoiseach. He retired from politics at the 1992 general election.

Having entered the Seanad Éireann (Irish senate) in 1965, FitzGerald was minister for foreign affairs 1973–77, under Liam Cosgrave, and then became Taoiseach himself, leading a Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition. Always an internationalist in outlook, he recognized at an early stage the significance to Ireland of its membership of the European Community (EC; now the European Union) and, as part of that membership, the need to find a peaceful, lasting accommodation with its nearest neighbour, the UK.

In 1985 he signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement with the UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher. The agreement provided for regular consultation between the two governments and the exchange of information on political, legal, security, and cross-border matters, and, significantly, contained the provision that no change in the status of Northern Ireland would be made without the consent of the majority of its people.

FitzGerald was born in Dublin, the son of Desmond FitzGerald, a cabinet minister in the Irish Free State. He studied law at University College and King's Inns, Dublin, and became a barrister in 1947. Initially he worked for the Irish airline, Aer Lingus, but then decided to pursue an academic career. After a period as a Rockefeller research assistant at Trinity College, he lectured in politics at University College in Dublin 1959–87.

He also worked as a journalist – as Irish correspondent for the BBC, the London Financial Times, and The Economist, and economics correspondent for the Irish Times. His books include Planning in Ireland (1968), Towards a New Ireland (1972), and a well-received autobiography All in a Life (1991).

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