Politicians pay tribute to achievements of proud Cork man Peter Barry

Formidable Fine Gael TD and minister was ‘immensely popular’, says President Higgins

The President, the Taoiseach and politicians of all parties have paid tribute to the former tánaiste and Fine Gael deputy leader Peter Barry, who died in Cork on Friday after a short illness. He was 88.

Mr Barry served as a TD for Cork for 28 years and was a minister in three Fine Gael-led governments. His most significant achievement came as minister for foreign affairs in Garret FitzGerald’s government of 1982-87, when was instrumental, along with Dr FitzGerald, in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

He was also a successful businessman, transforming the family business into the market-leading Barry’s Tea brand.

President Michael D Higgins, who was a Dáil colleague of Mr Barry in the 1980s and 1990s, said he had learned of his passing with great sadness.


“His view of Irish history was a long one and he brought all that wisdom to bear in his contributions to achieving the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985,” the President said. “As a person, he was immensely popular across all parties and, of course, he had a deep commitment to Cork City and its heritage.”

‘Outstanding service’

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, whose office confirmed the news of Mr Barry’s death in a brief statement on Friday shortly before noon, said that, throughout a long and distinguished career, Mr Barry gave “outstanding service to his country and his native city”.

“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,” the Taoiseach said.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said: "Peter will continue to be a role model for all of us who believe that politics is about positive change. Integrity defined Peter, and Ireland is a better place because of his service."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who shared a constituency with Mr Barry, also paid tribute, saying: "At a time of great violence and uncertainty, his role in helping to chart a way forward was critical."

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, whose late father, Hugh, was a constituency colleague of Mr Barry , said he had made "an extraordinary contribution to Cork, to Cork business and to politics".


A member of one of Cork’s most prominent merchant families, Mr Barry was first elected as a TD in 1969. He was appointed to the cabinet within four years. When

Liam Cosgrave

resigned after defeat in the 1977 general election, Mr Barry began a bid for the leadership but withdrew in favour of Garret FitzGerald. He later became Dr FitzGerald’s deputy. He also stood for the leadership in 1987.

He became minister for foreign affairs when Dr FitzGerald formed his second government in 1982 and played a crucial role in the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Mr Barry's wife, Margaret, predeceased him. He is survived by his daughters, Deirdre Clune, a Fine Gael MEP, and Fiona MacCarthy, and by his sons, Tony, Donagh, Conor and Peter, and a large extended family, including 21 grandchildren.

Mr Barry's remains will lie in repose at the Temple Hill Funeral Home, Boreenmanna Road, Cork, from 2pm on Saturday, August 27th, until removal at 4pm to St Michael's Church, Blackrock. His funeral Mass will take place at 11.30am on Monday, August 29th, with the funeral afterwards to St Michael's Cemetery, Blackrock.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times