Peter Barry: Tributes to family man, Corkman, patriot

Tributes have been flooding in for Peter Barry following his death yesterday.

Lord Mayor of Cork Des Cahill said: “Peter made a great contribution to both the civic and business community in Cork. His innovative approach to business saw his family firm, Barry’s Tea, become a major brand, as well as an important employer in the Cork region.

"On a personal level, before I entered politics in 2009, Peter Barry was the first person’s advice I sought. He will be best remembered for his role as minister for foreign affairs, which through his renowned negotiation skills, led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

"His role in a period of political turmoil was illustrated by the fact that protection by security forces was a necessity. It is great that through visionary dedication by people like Peter Barry, our island of Ireland is now a more peaceful place that that of the 1980s.”

Housing Minister Simon Coveney: “He was the person who actually got my family into politics. He asked Dad to stand for Fine Gael in the early 80s. We lived across from each other in Blackrock.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney
Housing Minister Simon Coveney


"I grew up looking at a Garda in a booth outside when he was minister for foreign affairs. There was always an intrigue and respect. He was a figure that I always would have had enormous respect for.

“He had an extraordinary presence about him when he stood in the Dáil or stood in a room. He was a very clear thinker. He was very decisive when he needed to be.

"He was somebody who could make things happen. He could lead people. Those types of personalities are not common. He will be sorely missed, but he will be remembered.”

European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy: “He was the perfect choice for the Freedom of the City. He was fundamentally an extremely proud Corkman.

European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy


"He really developed one of Cork’s most recognisable global brands, as well as work with charities and community groups before he ever entered politics. That added to his outstanding achievements as a politician.

"He was a great Corkman, and he will be sadly missed, but the county is better for having had him born amongst them.

“I remember talking to him and his wife Margaret and their family that day. Because he had a great love for Cork, he was very happy to accept that honour from the people of Cork.

"For him and his family, it was nice to bring him back to City Hall, after he had been out of public life for a few years. He told me it was something he was very proud of.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “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.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin


"At a time of great violence and uncertainty, his role in helping to chart a way forward was critical and his contribution will stand the test of time.

"[His] patriotic commitment to his city and his country are unquestioned and he will be fondly remembered by both.”

Former taoiseach John Bruton: “The characteristics of Peter Barry that are most marked in my mind are those of loyalty, public service, and respect for others. He was very good company. He was politically very effective.

Former taoiseach John Bruton
Former taoiseach John Bruton

"At crucial moments, when Fine Gael faced difficulties in government or in opposition, it was interventions by Peter Barry that calmed the situation and enabled the party to find the right path for itself and for the country.

"His signal achievement was the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. In a society in Northern Ireland that was deeply divided between majority and minority, the Anglo-Irish Agreement gave the minority the security of an international accord to protect their position and offer them a path to a fair society.

"It was on the foundation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, that the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process that led to it were built. Peter felt the loss of his wife Margaret very deeply and it is tragic that she was not with him for his final years.

"His family is, however, a great credit to them both and they carry on the work of public service that marked Peter Barry’s distinguished career.”

Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer: “Peter Barry was a friend, a mentor, and a really positive role model to me personally. He also left a huge impact on the people and city of Cork, where he was well loved.

Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer
Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer


"He served his country with distinction, particularly in his role as minister for foreign affairs, where his negotiation of the Anglo Irish Agreement showed him to be a republican who built peace and laid the foundation for dialogue and inclusion.

"He was an immense person of huge character and integrity and he will be sadly missed.”

Former sports minister Bernard Allen: “I found him to be a very loyal colleague, a great politician, a great statesman, and a very nice man behind all of that.

"A very kind man. He had a steely determination and great courage, but behind his courage and his strength as a politician was a very kind man.

"His family can be very proud of him, and Fine Gael are very proud of him.”

Former TD and senator, Máirín Quill: “He was a lovely man. He was the quintessential city centre Corkman. He was warm.

"When I went into politics first I was young and very green. Even though I wasn’t a member of the same party as him, I found a level of support and encouragement from him.

"There was a goodness in him. He had a good heart. He was a very patriotic person. He had a long view of politics. He really cared about his country, and he really cared about Northern Ireland.

"He cared greatly about the Anglo Irish Agreement. He saw that as the basis for further stability. He put his heart and soul into it, and that paved the way for the Good Friday Agreement.”


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