Malcolm Fitzpatrick

Malcolm Fitzpatrick

Eamon Gilmore Conference 2010 cropped.jpg
Tánaiste of Glytter
In office
23 June 2007 – 22 March 2018
TaoiseachAlexis Walker (2007-2017)
Jimmy O'Reilly
Preceded byAlan Shatt
Succeeded byVacant
Leader of the Centre Party
In office
3 September 2006 – 22 March 2018
Preceded bySíle Ó Cuív
Succeeded byMichael O'Donnell (Acting)
Teachta Comhthionól
for Sackmannan-at-Large
In office
12 June 1987 – 22 March 2018
Personal details
Born
Malcolm Joan Fitzpatrick

24 April 1955
Cloghel, Sackmannan, Glytter
Died22 March 2018 (aged 62)
Spálgleann, Glytter
Political partyCentre Party
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Salmond
Children2
Alma materInvertwinc College of Commerce
Military service
Branch/serviceHome Guard

Malcolm Joan Fitzpatrick (24 April 1955 - 22 March 2018) is a Glytteronian politician who is currently the Tánaiste of Glytter, as part of the coalition government headed by Taoiseach Jimmy O'Reilly. Fitzpatrick is the leader of the Centre Party and has been since 2006. He is also the Teachta Comhthionól (TC) for Highlands Central.

Since his tenure began in 2006, Fitzpatrick has played a central role in expanding the influence of his party. Following the 2007 Comhthionól election, the Liberty Party lost its majority in the Comhthionól Náisiúnta. On the 17th of June it was announced that the two parties would be forming a coalition. Fitzpatrick was appointed Tánaiste while several ministries were headed by TCs from the Centre Party. In a break with precedent, Fitzpatrick chose not to serve as both Tánaiste and a minister, stating that he was a "party man" and cared more about growing his party's support base than he did serving as a bureaucrat. He faced strong criticism from within his own party, as Centre did not occupy any of the senior ministries. He led the party into the 2012 Comhthionól election where it lost two seats to the Free Market Party. The coalition government also lost its majority and came to rely on support from rightist parties to pass its budgets. After the government's Pyrrhic victory, Fitzpatrick began to focus on growing his party's base. The Centre Party adopted positions that attracted senior citizens and young voters.

Life and Career

He was born as Malcolm Joan Fitzpatrick on 24 April 1955 to Mary Fitzpatrick, a school teacher, and Joan Anne MacDouglas, a doctor, in Cloghel, County Sackmannan. As a child, he often worked on his uncle’s farm in rural County Sackmannan. He lived with his mothers until he went to the Invertwinc College of Commerce to study agricultural economics. After working on his cousin’s campaign for a seat on the county council, Fitzpatrick drew the attention of local Centre Party activists, who approached him to run as a TC for the Sackmannan-at-Large constituency. He stood in the 1987 election and won a seat, starting his almost 30 year tenure in the Comhthionól.

Party leader

Fitzpatrick became party leader after the resignation of Síle Ó Cuív, who resigned over poor health. He was elected by Centre TCs on 3 September 2006 and assumed the leadership on the same day.

As party leader he worked to expand Centre's base, which is traditionally made up of farmers and those employed in the agriculture and fishing industries. Under his leadership, the Centre Party adopted policies to attract senior citizens before the 2012 election. Increasing the number of shares in RPG held by the government's pension fund. Taoiseach Walker agreed to the measure, raising the percentage of shares from three percent to four percent. However, the party lost two seats to the Free Market Party in the 2012 Comhthionól election.

In order to make itself more appealing to suburban and young voters, the Fitzpatrick oversaw the adoption of positions that favor free higher education. In addition, the party adopted a resolution which supports lowering the voting age to sixteen in municipal and county elections. Other policies added to the party platform under Fitzpatrick have marked a shift towards pro-environmentalist positions.

Under his leadership, Fitzpatrick worked to build a coalition of farmers, seniors, students, environmental activists, and suburban voters.

Tánaiste (2007-2018)

Fitzpatrick and Alexis Walker formed the Liberty-Centre coalition in 2007.

Following the 2007 Comhthionól election, Liberty and Centre entered into a coalition, which has governed the country for over a decade. Fitzpatrick was appointed Tánaiste while several ministries were headed by TCs from the Centre Party. He was confirmed by the Comhthionól as Tánaiste on 23 June. In a break with precedent, he chose not to serve as both Tánaiste and a minister, stating that he was a "party man" and cared more about growing his party's support base than he did serving as a bureaucrat. He faced strong criticism from within his own party, as Centre did not occupy any of the senior ministries. He retained the position following the 2012 and 2017 elections and held it until his death on 22 March 2018.

As Tánaiste, Fitzpatrick often maintained a low profile. He primarily served as an adviser to Taoiseach Walker and oversaw appointments to the Centre-held ministries. Fitzpatrick opted not to participate in foreign policy, making no major diplomatic visits outside of the Euclean Community. He played an active role in domestic policy, especially policies he prioritized as the party leader. The introduction of tuition-free university education in 2017 was one such major policy initiative spearheaded by Fitzpatrick. He was able to get the Liberty Party to agree to abolishing the fees entirely as opposed to increasing subsidies for students, the original policy Liberty hoped to pursue.

He enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Taoiseach Walker and served as one of Taoiseach O'Reilly's senior advisers.

Death and legacy

Fitzpatrick died in the early morning of 22 March 2018. He suffered a heart attack while alone in his Spálgleann apartment. His body was discovered after he failed to let his assistive staff into the building.

He lied in state at Carrowdun Palace in its the day before his funeral, which will took place at St Cuchulain's Cathedral on the Royal Mile. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated following the funeral ceremonies and his ashes were returned to his hometown of Cloghel, County Sackmannan to be buried.

His legacy is one of careful, calm, and quiet leadership that he described as being aimed at “making things better for the little guy”. Fitzpatrick was praised and his death mourned by many leading figures within Glytter. Remarking on his death, Walker said that she "will miss one of my dear friends, a friend who was unwavering in his ability to serve the public interest in both an effective and efficient manner”.