Thursday 8 December 2016

Barry - 'best Taoiseach the country nearly had'

Published 27/08/2016 | 02:30

Peter Barry. Pic: Collins Dublin
Peter Barry. Pic: Collins Dublin

Not long ago in this country, to turn on the TV or radio, or to pick up a paper, was to learn about another atrocity in the North. That we can look at those tragedies through the safety of hindsight is in no small measure due to the diplomatic skill and dogged determination of Peter Barry, who died yesterday at the age of 88.

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The lead-up to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 has often been seen as an arm-wrestle between unionists, nationalists, Downing Street and the Irish government. That is a genteel way of putting it. It was far more of a head-butting contest; and no head proved harder nor more effective than that of the steely, if softly spoken, Minister for Foreign Affairs. If the Good Friday Agreement paved the way for peace in the North, the Anglo-Irish Agreement laid down its foundations.

Throughout his life, Peter Barry distinguished himself in two ways as a man apart in Irish public life. He amassed a fortune as a successful businessman, and brought that winning formula into a lifetime of service to the Fine Gael party, proving himself a gifted statesman.

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