Tributes are being paid to the late Peter Barry, the former Tánaiste and Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Peter Barry who died earlier Friday after a short illness, aged 88.
Mr Barry, Ireland’s Foreign Minister when the Anglo-Irish Agreement was negotiated and signed in 1985, was also the man behind Barry’s Tea. He always described his profession as “tea taster”.
It was a matter of immense personal pride to him that the family tea business was built by his grandfather, the son of a north Cork blacksmith, through his ability to taste and blend tea.
He was hailed by many as the best Taoiseach Fine Gael – and Cork – never had.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the death, saying Mr Barry “passed away peacefully in Cork this morning surrounded by his family”.
“Throughout his long and distinguished political career, Peter gave outstanding service to his country and to his native city.
“In particular, his central and pivotal role in negotiating the Anglo Irish Agreement in 1985 helped to create the foundations on which the peace process in Northern Ireland was built.
“In the coming days we will reflect on and salute Peter Barry’s extraordinary legacy, but today, our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family at the loss of their father.
“We also remember at this time Peter’s late wife Margaret who was such a support to him throughout his career.”
With his late wife, Margaret O’Mullane, he had four sons and two daughters.
Mr Barry’s party colleague and successor as Tánaiste, Ireland’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, said that he “served his country with distinction, dignity and integrity.”
“Peter played a pivotal role in the negotiations leading up to the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement while he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and held a number of other ministerial roles. I will always remember him fondly as a great colleague totally committed to the highest standards in public office.
“Peter will continue to be a role model for all of us who believe that politics is about positive change.
“Integrity defined Peter and Ireland is a better place because of his service.”
A former Lord Mayor of Cork, he served as a TD for his Cork constituents between 1969 and 1997, serving at different times as minister for environment, education, transport and Foreign Affairs. Between January and March 1987 he served as Tánaiste to Garret FitzGerald.
Having served as deputy leader of Fine Gael between 1979-1987 and from 1989-1993, Mr Barry went on to play a senior role in Irish politics under Fine Gale leaders Alan Dukes and John Bruton after 1987.
He retired from national politics in 1997.
The father of six was succeeded by one of his two daughters, Deirdre Clune, as TD in his old constituency. Ms Clune is now a Fine Gael MEP.
In retirement, Mr Barry maintained a relatively low profile and socialised within a lifelong, close-knit circle of friends in Cork and enjoyed travelling.
He preferred avoid publicity in retirement but made headlines a decade ago when he purchased the Michael Collins/Kitty Kiernan letters to be displayed in Cork Library and not be lost to an overseas buyer.