PETER BARRY was widely regarded as the best leader Fine Gael never had. He served the party, his constituency, and the country loyally during 28 years in the Dáil, spanning four decades.
“Throughout his long and distinguished political career, Peter gave outstanding service to his country and to his native city,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared yesterday.
Modest and unassuming, Mr Barry was deeply proud of his Cork roots and the fact that he served as Lord Major of Cork in 1970 — nine years after his father, Anthony Barry, served in the same position.
Although his father lost his Dáil seat in the general election of 1965, Peter Barry won that seat in 1969, holding onto it until he retired in 1997. He served in ministries including Education, Environment, Foreign Affairs, Industry & Commerce, and Labour. He was recognised as an outstanding foreign affairs minister, playing a pivotal role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which helped generate the peace process that ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement.
He was always accessible to the media, and would brief journalists in his own home. He was a very successful businessman who helped to turn the family business — Barry’s Tea, first established by his grandfather — into an iconic national brand. In the Dáil he facetiously referred to himself as a “tea taster”, rather than a businessman.
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