Peter Barry's children to share €41m from family firm

 

The six children of former minister for foreign affairs Peter Barry are set to realise up to €41 million from a distribution of assets in Barry's Tea, the Cork-based import and distribution business that has been in the family's ownership since 1901.

The beneficiaries of the transaction include Mr Barry's daughter Cllr Deirdre Clune, the former Fine Gael TD. Like her father and grandfather Anthony Barry, she was also lord mayor of Cork. She is contesting the upcoming general election in the Cork South Central constituency.

The other beneficiaries of the distribution include her brothers Tony Barry, who manages the business, and Donagh, Conor and Peter jnr. Their sister Fiona MacCarthy is the other beneficiary.

Each sibling is likely to receive an equal share of funds from Barry's Tea in a distribution which comes amid a restructuring of the organisation. The company remains within the control of the Barry family, which is among the best-known business and political families in the State. It has an annual turnover of some €31 million and claims 37 per cent of all tea sales in Ireland in a market worth some €80 million.

Companies Office records indicate that the Barry's Tea organisation initiated a voluntary liquidation last December of two subsidiary companies, Skeabost and Zonergem. While the liquidation process is not yet complete, statutory filings indicate that the six siblings will be the prime beneficiaries of the €41 million surplus from Skeabost. They are likely to receive some €30 million directly from Skeabost and most of the €11 million that will go to Zonergem, in which Skeabost holds most of the shares.

A spokesman for Barry's Tea declined to comment on the transactions per se but acknowledged that restructuring was under way.

Barry's Tea, among the best known indigenous food brands, was established by Peter Barry's grandfather James J Barry.

Barry's tea was sold mainly from its shop in Princes Street, Cork until the 1960s, after which it was distributed in Co Cork and, ultimately, nationwide.

Peter Barry served as a minister in the governments led by Liam Cosgrave and Dr Garret FitzGerald. Some years ago, the family took out unlimited liability status on the business. Such companies have no obligation to file public accounts.