Sunday 16 June 2019

Barry Desmond

RALPH BENSON BARRY Desmond likes to point out that between 1973 and 1997 Labour was in government more often than any other Irish political party. Desmond was present for most of that time. This year marks 20 years since, as Minister for Health, he introduced the Family Planning Bill, making condoms available in Ireland without a doctor's prescription.

Labour continued its prophylactic purpose as the minor partner in two more coalition governments, but by 1994 Desmond had gone to the European Court of Auditors. He retired in mid-2000.

Corkman Barry Desmond began as a trade union official in the ITGWU. In 1969 he was elected as Labour TD for Dun Laoghaire and served as junior minister in Finance in Garret's first government.

When Fine Gael and Labour returned to office at the end of 1982, Desmond took on the Health and Social Welfare portfolios. In the same year he became deputy leader of Labour, and in 1989 was elected to the European Parliament.

From Charlie Haughey through the beef barons and the Catholic church to Euro-auditor, Desmond says he took no prisoners during his political career. He still holds CJH responsible for the two-tier health system, citing the "cave-in" on the common contract for consultants in 1978.

These days, Desmond is an honorary fellow of the UCD Politics Dept , and has completed his second book, Reflections on Labour in Ireland.

He maintains links with Dun Laoghaire as an executive member of the Maritime Institute of Ireland.

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