Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Barry in his office in Dublin in 1986.
EAMONN FARRELL/ROLLING NEWS.IE
By Irish Echo Staff
The former Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Barry has died in Cork at age 88, it’s been announced.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that his former Fine Gael party colleague died peacefully on Friday morning surrounded by members of his family.
Kenny said that Barry had played a “central and pivotal role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, [helping] to create the foundations on which the peace process in Northern Ireland was built.”
President Michael D. Higgins, in a tribute, also cited Barry’s work on the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
“As a person he was immensely popular across all parties and, of course, he had a deep commitment to Cork City and its heritage,” the president said. “Peter Barry, in his non-political life, gained enormous respect internationally through his work in the family business.”
Barry, who was born on Aug. 10, 1928, was a member of the Dáil for almost 30 years. He also served in the environment, transport and education portfolios in government. He was noted, too, in his business career for pioneering the distribution and wholesaling of tea. In time, the famous family brand, founded in 1901 by the politician’s grandfather James Barry, was in supermarkets throughout Ireland and many countries overseas.
After the Fine Gael-Labour coalition lost power in the 1987 General Election, Barry ran for the Fine Gael party leadership against fellow former ministers Alan Dukes and John Bruton, with Dukes emerging as the winner.
Barry stayed on in politics for another 10 years. His daughter Deirdre Clune won his seat and held it through 2011. She is now a member of the European Parliament.
Paying tribute to Barry today, the current Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told the Irish Times: “I will always remember him fondly as a great colleague totally committed to the highest standards in public office.”
The current Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said. “I have known Peter Barry and his family all my life. Peter served for many years in the Dáil with my late father, Oliver, and they both served in cabinet together. His deep commitment to public service and his humble and warm demeanor were admired by all.”
Fianna Fáil leader and Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin said: “A distinguished minister in a number of government departments including transport and education, he will of course be best remembered for his stewardship of the department of foreign affairs and his role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement.”
Taoiseach Kenny said: “In the coming days we will reflect on and salute Peter Barry’s extraordinary legacy, but today, our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family at the loss of their father.
“We also remember at this time Peter’s late wife Margaret who was such a support to him throughout his career,” Kenny said.