Opinion Editorial

Friday 22 June 2018

'Suds' was a proud Irish giant who strode upon the world stage

Peter Sutherland. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Peter Sutherland. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins


Even if Peter Sutherland, who has died aged 71, had done nothing else in his action-packed life, he would be well remembered as the man who successfully led a drive for cheap air fares across the European Union.

As EU Competition Commissioner from 1984 to 1989, he earned himself the nickname 'The Sheriff' as he took on the heavily regulated state-owned airlines and opened the door for low-fare carriers like Ryanair. He also successfully battled against state subsidies in countries like France and his tireless cartel-busting work was recognised when he was named 'European Person of the Year' in 1988.

He was Ireland's best-known international statesman of his generation, with a huge reach in business and politics during a glittering and varied career. He was, by turns, a top-flight lawyer, attorney general, Ireland's EU Commissioner, head of the World Trade Organisation - which delivered a landmark global free trade deal - and a leading light in international business and finance.

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