The President and Taoiseach led tributes from across the political spectrum last night following the death of former tánaiste and deputy leader of Fine Gael, Peter Barry, one of the architects of the peace process.
Mr Barry, who as foreign affairs minister played a key role in negotiating the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement, and who spearheaded the expansion of his family’s Barry’s Tea business empire to become one of Ireland’s top brands, died yesterday, surrounded by his family, in Marymount Hospice in Cork after a short illness.
He was 88.
He was predeceased by his wife Margaret, and is survived by his children, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune, Tony, Fiona, Donagh, Conor, and Peter.
Widely regarded as the best leader Fine Gael never had, Mr Barry was hailed yesterday for his immense commitment and contribution to Irish political and economic life, particularly during a turbulent period in Anglo-Irish relations in the mid-1980s.
President Michael D Higgins said Mr Barry’s view of Irish history was a long one.
“He brought all that wisdom to bear in his contributions to achieving the Anglo Irish Agreement of 1985,” he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Mr Barry gave outstanding service to his country and to his native city during a long and distinguished political career.
“In particular, his central and pivotal role in negotiating the Anglo Irish Agreement helped to create the foundations on which the peace process in Northern Ireland was built,” he said.
“In the coming days we will reflect on and salute his extraordinary legacy, but today our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family.”
Born in 1928, Mr Barry followed his father, Anthony, into politics and became a TD for Cork South Central in 1969.
He was deputy leader of Fine Gael from 1979 to 1987, and 1989-93. He held several cabinet positions before being appointed minister for foreign affairs in 1982. He regarded the negotiation of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement as the highlight of his political career.
The figurehead of one of Ireland’s great political dynasties, he, like his father before him, was elected Lord Mayor of Cork in 1970, and he took immense pride in 2005 when his daughter, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune, become the third generation of the family to hold the chain of office.
Following his retirement from politics in 1997, he indulged his passions for travel and art, and was made a Freeman of Cork in 2010.
His remains lie in repose at Temple Hill Funeral Home in Cork from 2pm today before removal at 4pm to St Michael’s Church in Blackrock. Burial follows 11.30am Requiem Mass on Monday.
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