Former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave dies aged 97

Mr Cosgrave served as Taoiseach between 1973 and 1977

Former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave dies aged 97

Former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, Liam Cosgrave, at the Annual 1916 Commemoration in Arbour Hill in Dublin, 04-05-2005. Image: RollingNews

The former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, Liam Cosgrave has died aged 97.

Cosgrave led the government elected in coalition with the Labour Party in 1973.

His four year term lasted until 1977 when Fianna Fáil swept to a landslide victory under Jack Lynch.

Born in 1920 Mr Cosgrave was first elected to the Dáil in 1943. He became Fine Gael party leader in 1965.

He resigned as party leader following the 1977 election defeat and was succeeded by Garrett Fitzgerald.

He left the Dáil in 1981.

Devoted to public service

In a statement this evening, the current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Mr Cosgrave was “someone who devoted his life to public service."

"A grateful country thanks and honours him for that and for always putting the nation first,” he said.

“Consistently opposed to the use of violence, Liam Cosgrave was a courageous voice against terrorism, and protected the State in times of crisis,” he said.

“As Taoiseach he played an important role in the Sunningdale Agreement, which helped pave the way for the later agreements culminating in the Good Friday Agreement and peace on this island.

“Liam Cosgrave is perhaps best summed up by paraphrasing one of his most famous speeches: he was a man of integrity who, totally disregarding self-interest, always served the nation.

"Today we have lost a Statesman and a great man."

Committed to serving the Irish people

The President Michael D. Higgins said Mr Cosgrave was “committed to serving the people of Ireland with all of his energy, intellect as well as passion.”

“Liam Cosgrave will be remembered not only as an effective Cabinet Minister but as a Taoiseach with the capacity to win and secure the stability of a multi-party coalition,” he said.

“In retirement, he loved to be among the people, be it at State occasions or sporting events and it is fitting that we pay tribute to his significant contribution to Ireland. 

“Sabina and I wish to express our deepest sympathy to his children Mary, Liam and Ciarán, to members of the Cosgrave family, and to his wide circle of friends.”

Mr Cosgrave’s father WT Cosgrave served as the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932.

While the position of Taoiseach had yet to be formally created, he was the first elected head of government in an independent Ireland.

Mr Cosgrave is survived by his three children - Mary, Liam Jr and Ciaran.