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Peter Barry remembered as key player in Anglo-Irish Agreement

Published 26/08/2016

Peter Barry (to the left of Margaret Thatcher) at Anglo-Irish talks at Chequers
Peter Barry (to the left of Margaret Thatcher) at Anglo-Irish talks at Chequers

Ireland's former Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Peter Barry has been remembered as a key player in Anglo-Irish relations during one of the most difficult periods of the Troubles following his death at the age of 88.

The businessman from Cork, who built the Barry's Tea brand into a household name in Ireland, forged a successful political career spanning decades.

From a political dynasty started by his father, the former Lord Mayor of Cork was first elected a TD (MP) in 1969. He went on to become deputy leader of his Fine Gael party.

Until he retired from national politics in 1997 he served in a number of senior government positions including the education, transport and environment portfolios.

But it was in his role as Foreign Affairs Minister in the years leading up to the Anglo-Irish Agreement - credited with being a stepping stone to the Good Friday Agreement - that he is best remembered.

President Michael D Higgins said Mr Barry was also renowned by all who knew him for his great courtesy.

"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," he 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.

"Peter Barry, in his non-political life, gained enormous respect internationally through his work in the family business.

"He will be deeply missed."

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said his former party colleague leaves an extraordinary legacy.

"Throughout his long and distinguished political career, Peter gave outstanding service to his country and to his native city," he said.

"In particular, his central and pivotal role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985 helped to create the foundations on which the peace process in Northern Ireland was built.

"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."

Mr Barry died peacefully in his native city on Friday morning surrounded by his family. He had four sons and two daughters, including sitting Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune.

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