Fitzgerald was born in Doon, County Limerick and educated at the Christian Brothers school in Doon, St Patrick's College, Dublin and University College Dublin. He worked as a teacher before becoming involved in politics.
He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1981 general election as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Dublin North-East constituency. He lost his seat at the February 1982 general election but regained it in the November 1982 election.
In 1991 Fitzgerald was a key member of the so-called "gang of four" which proposed a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach, and the leader of his party, Charles Haughey (the other members of the group were Noel Dempsey, Seán Power and M. J. Nolan). Haughey resigned in early 1992 and Albert Reynolds became Taoiseach, but Fitzgerald remained on the backbenches. He lost his Dáil seat again at the 1997 general election and was then elected to the 21st Seanad on the Labour Panel, and was re-elected in 2002 to the 22nd Seanad.
Fitzgerald resigned the party whip on 27 March 2007 and stated his intention to run as an independent candidate in next general election. It was believed that he did this as a response to his failure to gain the party's nomination for Dublin North-East.. However, he did not stand at the 2007 general election.
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