After studying economics and law, Garret FitzGerald lectured (1959-73) in political economy at his alma mater, University College. He was first elected to the Dail (parliament) in 1969 as a member of the Fine Gael. He was minister of foreign affairs (1973-77), then became party leader and subsequently prime minister in 1981 as a result of a coalition with the Labour party.

Although defeated in early 1982, FitzGerald regained power later that year and was again prime minister from late 1982 to 1987, when election losses caused him to resign as party leader. A moderate nationalist, he was the driving force behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. Since his retirement from Irish politics in 1992, FitzGerald has written a weekly column for The Irish Times.