My latest book, A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-87, was launched by An Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at the National University of Ireland. I was honoured that the Taoiseach and members of the Costello family, including the late Declan Costello’s wife Joan, were in attendance. I am also extremely grateful to Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, for making the venue available to me, and for also speaking at the event. It was a great success, and the book sold out! Many thanks to the Hodges Figgis staff who manned the sales table for the evening. Copies of the book are still available to purchase direct from Palgrave Macmillan; there is also a kindle edition.
Fine Gael’s demise has been periodically predicted since 1933. Yet it has survived, becoming the largest party in the state after the 2011 general election. Drawing on interviews with key players and previously unused archival sources, this book offers a fascinating account of a critical period in Fine Gael’s history when the party was challenged to define its place in Irish politics. The central role played by Declan Costello is disclosed for the first time. Although he was never party leader, his Just Society proposals transformed Fine Gael by encouraging a new generation of socially-minded politicians, while his agenda for change paved the way for Garret FitzGerald. Exploring the continuities and discontinuities between Costello’s Just Society and FitzGerald’s Constitutional Crusade, the book documents how the internal debate shaped the party and provides an insight into the origins of an identity crisis with which Fine Gael continues to struggle. It also offers a commentary on Irish society, and explores the difficulties faced by an older generation as it sought to locate itself in a changing Ireland.
All photographs were taken by Deirdre McGing. For more information about Deirdre’s work, visit her website.