Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh chlann Peter Barry atá anseo linn tráthnóna. Fuair Peter Barry bás ar 26 Lúnasa i mbliana. Tá siad anseo fá choinne comhbhrón a dhéanamh. Tá rún comhbhróin os comhair an Tí. Bhí aithne agam fhéin ar Peter Barry. An chéad lá a tháinig mé isteach anseo, bhí sé ann. Bhí sé anseo na blianta roimhe sin freisin. Is fear é a raibh an-mheas agamsa air agus a raibh an-mheas ag gach uile dhuine air. I welcome the members of the Barry family who are here with us today - Tony Barry, Delia Barry, Karen Barry, David Barry, Donagh Barry, Rosemary Barry, Clodagh Barry, Tom Barry, Peter Barry, Fiona MacCarthy, Johnny MacCarthy, Deirdre Clune, Michael Clune and Robert Clune.

I now call on the Taoiseach to commence the expressions of sympathy.

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an Leas-Cheann Comhairle as ucht an ócáid seo a chur os ár gcomhair. Cuirim fáilte roimh chlann de Barra go dtí an Dáil. I welcome the members of the Barry family to the House as we formerly mark Peter's outstanding service to his country. There are few Irish politicians or personalities to whom, on the news of their death, drinks would be raised all over the world. In late August 2016, in accommodation looking out over the Pacific, in kitchens in the busy suburbs of Boston and in skyscraper apartments in Beijing, Irish people, young and not so young, might well have picked up their cup of tea and thought even for a moment of Peter Barry. This weekend, the media reported on the psychological and socialising benefit of the hot drink. Apparently it makes us feel warmer to those around us and more social in our circumstances. If this is true, it is fair to say that the Barry family managed to achieve whole waves of socialisation and did so globally. For Irish people, as we all know, a cup of tea healed broken hearts, cured homesickness, broke the ice and got the new neighbours tasting real, proper tea, possibly for the first time. Travelling to America, Irish people always knew that the safe arrival of certain foodstuffs could be depended on by having a blind eye turned by a generous heart in the customs officials' hut at JFK. The box of Barry's, however, was fail-safe. It would always make it home.

As Peter's son, Tony, pointed out at his funeral mass, Peter Barry did not inherit a global brand; he built it over many years of dedication and hard work. That dedication was replicated in Peter Barry's public service as Lord Mayor of his beloved Cork, as a Member of this House for many years, as a Minister in several Departments and, finally, as the first serving Tánaiste of the Fine Gael Party. His contribution to the peace process was immense. In the difficult years after the H-block protests and deaths on hunger strike, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry persisted in his work with then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. He did so with characteristic quietness, patience and resolve and it is in no small part due to his work that we now have peace on this island. History has already recognised the key part he played as a Minister for Foreign Affairs in making a reality of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. With Garret FitzGerald, to whom he was utterly loyal, he established a basis of trust with the leaders of constitutional nationalism while resolutely standing firm in the face of any attempts by the British to back down. The Anglo-Irish Agreement would be seen as an enduring achievement on this island, an achievement which he made possible and which contributed to the Good Friday Agreement and successive agreements.

Peter Barry was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1969 to represent Cork. By 1973, he was Minister for Transport and Power in Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave's coalition Government. I remember that period very well. During my own by-election in 1975, as Minister for Transport and Power, Peter Barry brought about the lighting up of two of the darker areas of the country, electrically speaking, in Ballycroy and the Black Valley in Kerry. They were two legacies of his Ministry. They were areas that had not been connected to any electrical power. Thereafter, he served as Minister in various portfolios in education, environment and, as I have said, foreign affairs, working with distinction in each role to which he brought equally his characteristic style and élan.

His political instincts saw him become Tánaiste to his friend and mentor, Garret FitzGerald. I had the pleasure of working with him for several years and in my time as Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach, he was always available and always generous with his advice, support and encouragement. In this, as in all matters, I knew him as an extraordinarily talented man who carried that talent lightly. Political opponents would say he might have disagreed with their view but he was always able to differentiate between an opinion and its holder, therefore treating them and all that he met with his usual dignity and respect. Peter was a man of innate decency, modesty and was direct and uncomplicated in his loyalty to his late wife, Margaret, his family, his country and his party. As a couple, they walked the stage of politics with consummate ease and respect. His political and personal values were of the highest order and represent the best in political and public life. With his passing, we in the Fine Gael family have lost one of our best and greatest figures. We looked up to him not only for his magnificent business expertise and political insight, but also for his common sense, kindness and wisdom.

Born on Friday, 10 August 1928, in a sense Peter Barry grew up with the new State. He was acutely aware that in Fine Gael, our founders were the men and women of 1916. He had a particular sense of what Michael Collins envisaged for his Ireland and its place in the new world. He equally had particular affinity for what it meant and could mean to belong to this still young republic, those same views perhaps that drew his daughter Deirdre to politics and public life. The man we pay tribute to here was a Deputy, Lord Mayor of Cork, Government Minister and Tánaiste and we respect him as such, but to his family, he was an adored father, grandfather and someone loved beyond words and beyond his time on this earth. It is with them, his family, that our hearts must lie today. On behalf of the country he served with courage and grace, we thank him and say go raibh míle maith agat ar fad. He has gone just that bit ahead of us to a place unknown. May his soul know peace and happiness for eternity.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son pháirtí Fhianna Fáil, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann de Barra ar bhás Peter agus le páirtí Fhine Gael. Polaiteoir agus fear gnó den scoth a bhí ann. Duine cneasta, lách agus éirimiúil ab ea é. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son a mhuintire. Bhí sé dílis dá chathair agus do mhuintir na tíre seo. Is léir go raibh agus go bhfuil fós tionchar faoi leith aige ar chúrsaí na tíre seo agus ar dhul chun cinn na tíre seo maidir le cúrsaí eacnamaíochta agus go háirithe ó thaobh chúrsaí síochána de.

On my own behalf and on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the Barry family again on the loss of Peter and also to the Fine Gael Party because, as the Taoiseach said, he was one of their best since the formation of the party. In many ways, it could be argued that he inherited what would have been termed at the time the Irish Ireland wing of the Cumann na nGaedheal party of the late 1920s - the Michael Collins inheritance of the movement. That stood him in good stead in later life particularly in his stewardship as Minister for Foreign Affairs and in being so effective in negotiating a breakthrough and watershed in Anglo-Irish relations and in the context of relations on these islands, namely, the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

He was a dedicated, committed public servant, but he was a man of stature and a man who achieved much outside of politics. In particular, he grew a small business on Princes Street where he tasted the tea assiduously. I read a very good article on this. Indeed, I am pleased to refer people to a great programme by John Bowman at 8.30 a.m. on Sunday morning for those who get up early. There were two wonderful programmes in the series that I listened to recently on the way to a particular commemoration. I got a great insight into the nature of the man and his approach to life as well as his humility, sense of perspective and a very well-grounded philosophy of life. When it came to tea tasting, it was a particular achievement to get the most hardened Fianna Fáiler to accept that Barry's Tea was the best tea to drink, even in Cork city. That is no mean achievement in itself.

I was struck by the Taoiseach's articulation of the virtues of tea. Given the minority Government situation we are in and the rather fragile existence that we live, maybe the leaders of all the parties should drink tea together on a more regular basis to give greater stability and esprit de corps to this particular arrangement.

The people had great respect for Peter Barry. He commanded respect - he did not seek it - because he respected others and their opinions. I was struck by a comment of his daughter, Deirdre, at the time of the funeral. She remarked on how he was treated a little differently in the constituency. John Dennehy, a former colleague of ours in Cork South Central, would often talk of particular local meetings. We were at such a meeting last night with the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney. The Deputies and councillors would turn up. The chairman of the local committee would make an apology for Mr. Barry who, of course, could not be there on the night because of other functions. The remark would never be critical or anything like that. He was always in early. There was such respect for what he had achieved in terms of the city, the employment he had created and the leadership he gave as a public representative. That was significant.

He was a great supporter of the arts in the city of Cork and nationally and a great supporter of sport as well. It is fair to say that he was Cork GAA's first official corporate sponsor in the 1990s. It is equally fair to say that Cork hurling and Gaelic football were far more successful in the 1990s than currently. It reflects the potential. He was generous in that regard. He was a lifelong member of the Blackrock GAA Club and a great supporter of St. Michael's GAA Club as well as many other sporting clubs that he quietly supported. Of course, he was a great advocate and supporter of rugby and the legendary Cork Constitution club as well.

He was an effective Minister. He served as Minister for Transport and Power under Liam Cosgrave's Government in the 1970s. He also served for a period as Minister for Education. Without doubt, his period as Minister for Foreign Affairs represented his greatest achievement in politics in the context of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the sets of relationships he built up with Unionist politicians, Nationalist politicians and people and personalities of the calibre of Fr. Denis Faul and others who held him in the highest of esteem. There is no doubt that this work sowed the seeds of later work that bore such fruit in the form of the Good Friday Agreement and the progress and the great leaps made in terms of bringing peace to the island of Ireland.

We salute his legacy. It is a rich legacy of which his family, including his sons, daughters, brother and grandchildren in particular - I understand there are 21 grandchildren whose company he enjoyed immensely - can be very proud. His was a life well lived and he made a significant contribution to the betterment of his fellow human beings on this island and internationally. No greater thing could a person wish in his life than to say truly that he did his work, he did his bit, and that it made a difference and improved the quality of life of others. That is, in essence, why people should be in politics. He achieved that and we salute him and his contribution. We mourn his passing.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son pháirtí Shinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le mic agus iníonacha iar-Thánaiste agus iar-Theachta Peter Barry, a bhfuair bás i mí Lúnasa. On my behalf and on behalf of Sinn Féin I want to extend sincere sympathy to the family and loved ones of the former Tánaiste and Member of this House, Peter Barry, following his passing last August.

I did not know Peter personally but his exploits as a politician and as a businessman are well known. It is clear to everyone that he excelled at both. He shunned, apparently, the description of businessman in favour of that of tea taster when registering in the Dáil register over his lengthy political life. He succeeded in turning the family business, Barry's Tea, into one of the great iconic Irish brands that is loved and revered throughout the country and overseas, as has already been recorded, but nowhere more so, I suspect, than in his native Cork.

Peter followed his father, Anthony, into public life when he was first elected to the Dáil in 1969. He served continuously for 28 years, being elected on no less than nine occasions until his retirement in 1997. During that time, Peter held ministerial office at the Departments of Education, Environment, Transport and Power and Foreign Affairs. He also served as deputy leader of his party, Fine Gael, and briefly as Tánaiste in 1987. Among such lofty roles, perhaps more importantly for a Corkman, was that of Lord Mayor of the city of Cork. Peter held the role in 1970-71, an office held by his father before him and one which Peter's daughter, Deirdre, with whom I have had the pleasure of serving in this House and who is now an MEP for Ireland South, would also go on to hold. That is perhaps a family record not only in Cork but across the island.

Peter had a long and distinguished career in public office but it is clear from the many expressions and comment on his death that he was a dedicated family man and a loving husband to his wife Margaret, who passed away in 2013. I have no doubt the Barry family gathered in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery today are remembering her as well as we meet and pay tribute to Peter. He was a loving father to his children Deirdre, Tony, Fiona, Donagh, Conor and Peter and a grandfather to 21 garpháistí, many of whom are here today to remember their grandfather.

I extend my sympathy to the entire Barry family and the sympathy of my party to all of Peter's friends and loved ones. I wish to extend my sympathy to the Taoiseach and his colleagues in Fine Gael, recognising that they have lost a party colleague and stalwart. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of the former Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry. Peter served as a Minister in the Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government in place when I first entered the Oireachtas. He was regarded as an unfailingly loyal colleague and was trusted and respected. His counsel was sought by parliamentary colleagues on all sides of this House.

He was a friend of my political mentor, Brendan Corish. They shared many anecdotes. I am reminded of one by the remarks of Deputy Martin. He talked of the esteem in which Peter Barry was held in Cork. I am reminded of a story that Brendan Corish told. He was recounting the events of one Saturday night. He had finished his clinics in Wexford and had gone home to Belvedere Road in Wexford. There was a knock on the door. A man looking for advice was there. Brendan Corish, as was his wont, said, "Do come in". The man said that before he came in, he had to say to Brendan Corish that he had never voted for him, that he always gave his number one vote to Sir Anthony Esmonde, but that he could never go to a gentleman with the problem he had.

Peter's central role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Agreement planted the seeds that many others, including Dick Spring and Albert Reynolds, were able to develop in later years when working to construct a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

During his time in this House, his wisdom and insight during times of enormous strain were of huge value to Members and his sense of right was important for people to hear. He was a noted benefactor and supporter of Blackrock National Hurling Club as well as the Fine Gael organisation in Cork and is dearly missed, no doubt, by his home community. On behalf of the Labour Party, I extend my deepest sympathies to Peter's children - Deirdre, Fiona, Tony, Donagh, Conor and Peter - and all his extended family and friends gathered in Leinster House today and the many more who are undoubtedly watching these proceedings. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

On behalf of the Green Party, I wish to very briefly add our words of sympathy for the family of Peter Barry. It should be remembered that what is important in politics is a certain amount of decency, which Mr. Barry epitomised. I never worked with him, but my colleagues, former Deputies John Gormley and Trevor Sargent, told me they had the highest regard for him through their dealings with him because he was a decent man and brought to politics a certain decency, a little more of which, perhaps, we could do with today.

I have a parting "Thank-you" for him. He rescued our Senator, Grace O'Sullivan, from a French naval frigate once. She had been arrested while protesting at an atoll in the South Pacific. In the fashion of Irish politicians, it was the Foreign Minister at the time, Peter Barry, who went to work representing all the people of Ireland in helping to release her. We must thank him for that but, more widely, we must thank him for his contribution to the peace process and for the civility and general decency he brought to the Irish political world.

I call on the current representatives of Mr. Barry's constituency, Cork South-Central.

Like other Deputies, I welcome the Barry family to Dáil Éireann. I am sure this is an occasion tinged with sadness but much pride as well. As a Cork person who grew up on the Blackrock Road, approximately 100 yards from where Peter and Margaret Barry and their family lived, I remember very vividly as a young boy hearing about and revering Peter Barry as a pillar of society. He had been Lord Mayor before I was born and was a significant figure in many ways in Cork and continued to be so for many years. He built a business at a time when Cork was struggling. He introduced others to politics at a time when many people shied away from it. As referred to by Deputy Martin, he always supported sports clubs and was effectively the first corporate sponsor of Cork GAA, as far as I can recall. He was a huge support to other big sports clubs such as Cork Con, the "Rockies" in Blackrock and St. Michael's, making no distinction between sports but simply supporting his community and the people in it. I know it was an extraordinary honour for him to be given the freedom of Cork City in 2010 because he wrote to me afterwards. He made a very powerful speech that day and impressed a huge number of people. Perhaps I might be bold enough to suggest that the appreciation for him in his home city, whether as Lord Mayor, a recipient of the freedom of the city or a councillor, meant as much to him as some of the much more high-profile work he did as a national figure, holding very significant portfolios in education, transport, environment, labour, industry and commerce and, of course, what he is best known for, foreign affairs.

On a personal level, I am probably correct in saying that my late father entered politics because of Peter Barry's intervention. It is unusual that a politician in Dáil Éireann would try to persuade a neighbour who literally lives next door to run for the Dáil for the same party. That says an awful lot about Peter Barry and the kind of person he was. He tried to bring people who he thought could change things for the better into politics to work with him, rather than fearing the competition that may come from the running for election of two Deputies living next door to each other in a very competitive constituency. I remember my father talking about the conversations he had with Peter in the late 1970s when they were both business people. Peter Barry had a very strong view that we needed to try to attract more business people into local government in order to try to find a way of rebuilding a Cork economy that was very much struggling at the time. That was the motivation that led to my family getting involved in politics.

Much has been said about Peter Barry's role as Minister for Foreign Affairs at a time when the country faced real tension and difficulty linked to the politics and complexity of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the South. Peter was a constitutional nationalist but also a pragmatist. He was also a very tough man when he needed to be, both in politics and business. All these attributes resulted in his playing a pivotal role in the putting together of the Anglo-Irish Agreement when he was in a position of real power and influence. When things could have turned for the worst, he was determined to try to ensure that did not happen. That thinking and that approach were subsequently the foundation for a peace process that we now all enjoy.

Finally, on a personal level, we are remembering and honouring someone who made an extraordinary contribution to Cork in business, sport, history, the arts and many other fields that he quietly funded and for which he never sought any recognition. I hope that his family will leave here somewhat consoled, supported and reassured by the comments made today and since he passed away in August by all political parties and none. The respect that Peter Barry continues to enjoy as a giant of politics and business in Cork will last for a very long period.

It gives me great pleasure to add my voice to the words of tribute for the late Peter Barry, a man whom I met on only a small number of occasions. Of the family, I know his daughter Deirdre best. I acknowledge Peter Barry's incredibly distinguished record of public service. It is not often enough remarked upon that the families of politicians pay a price for the work we do and the fact that we are away from home so much. Peter's late wife, Margaret, and their children all undoubtedly paid that price. I think the reward for the latter is the pride they undoubtedly have for the enormous work he did for Cork, for the country and internationally.

As a young boy growing up in Cork and becoming aware of what was going on in our country in the mid-1980s and of the political figures of that time, I gained much respect for the late Peter Barry and his steadying influence, particularly in his four or so very difficult years as Minister for Foreign Affairs at such a fraught juncture in the politics of our island. As a young man, I was struck by the ease with which he moved among people. He moved very gently among all sorts of people from all sections of society.

Not all politicians have that ability but he certainly had it. It was something he did very comfortably and it was very natural for him.

His business experience made him a better politician, as the Minister, Deputy Coveney, has said. It brings home to all of us the need to bring more experience and people with business qualities into politics. He did an enormous amount of work quietly, and even at his funeral in Cork at the end of August, somebody heavily involved with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul remarked to me that the work he did and the help he gave to people in a very quiet and dignified way is an untold story of Peter Barry. He gave a contribution and support to Cork GAA and many sporting organisations, which is well and truly acknowledged, but he did many small things quietly that helped people significantly. I know that for a fact.

He had a real sense of duty of public service to bring his undoubted qualities to bear in public policy. The same is true of his daughter, Deirdre, who does not need politics but has chosen that route from a sense of duty and a desire to serve the people she represents. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to say these few words and to acknowledge the immense contribution of the late Peter Barry to politics, public life and, not least, to the people of Cork he represented so well for 28 years.

I call another Deputy from Cork South-Central, Deputy Ó Laoghaire.

Cuirim fáilte roimh mhuintir de Barra anseo tráthnóna inniu agus déanaim comhbhrón leo. I pay tribute to a former Deputy, Minister, Ard Mhéara and freeman, Peter Barry, somebody who made a very substantial contribution to life in his country and city. He remains held in the very highest regard and his service to his country was considerable. I particularly note that although much of the discussion has been about his contribution as a Minister and Deputy, in Cork the honour of being a freeman is quite significant. The family has a particular connection to the office of Lord Mayor, which is held in very high regard by the people of Cork because of the tradition of MacCurtain and MacSwiney. It is clearly very important to the family and worth recognising that, although it was before my time, he was regarded as an excellent Lord Mayor who represented the city with great distinction.

Comment has already been made on his support of many sporting organisations in the city and county. He had a very close affinity with Cork Constitution rugby club, as well as the "Rockies" and Cork hurling and football in the form of a corporate sponsor. I suppose it would be impossible not to remark on his legacy as a businessman with regard to tea. I grew up in a world where Barry's tea was an enormous national brand, but it was very interesting to hear at the funeral how he managed to grow the business from a relatively small shop on Princes Street, although I could be corrected on that. The business became a national and international brand. Cork is a place that is very proud of its various food, drink and produce but there is probably hardly any brand more strongly associated with Cork than Barry's tea. Deputy Martin remarked that perhaps we should all have tea and I am sure the Government would be delighted to have a supplier with as much reliability as the late Mr. Barry would have been.

I did not know former Deputy Barry particularly well. I think I met him once. In all the tributes I heard, the one word standing out was that he was a gentleman. There seems to be a very strong consensus on that across all parties and background. It was very impressive to see the whole life of the city represented at his funeral. He was clearly a man with a great deal of courtesy, decency and civility. All sides of the House could learn a great deal from that. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

A number of groups, including Independents 4 Change and the Rural Alliance, have given me some discretion to allow a short intervention from Deputies Kevin O'Keeffe and Sean Sherlock and the Minister of State, Deputy Dara Murphy.

I, too, pay tribute to Peter Barry. I welcome his family today and I know Deirdre. As young fellows we all looked up to Peter Barry for the role he played in foreign affairs. The Barry name is synonymous with County Cork, and although there are many other Barrys, Peter Barry, I am sure, would be up with the likes of Kevin Barry and Tom Barry. Peter Barry's ancestors came from north Cork, with Ballyhooly just up the road from me, and I would like to be associated with that, whatever about the political side. Peter Barry demonstrated that business and politics can work hand in hand and it is one of his legacies. I sympathise with his family.

I will shortly quote an article written by Michael Clifford some months ago when he described Mr. Barry. I can relate to Deputy Martin when he spoke about the use of "mister" in Mr. Barry. I did not know him personally but to all of us who knew of Mr. Barry, he was held in such high respect. Mr. Clifford used the following apposite words: "For many who encountered him, he was just a decent man who did his best to make a difference using competence, charm and a not a little steel when required." Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

I welcome the Barry family, many of whom I consider very good friends, and I express continued sympathies. I am from the adjoining constituency and those from Cork will know that most of the great things from Cork come from the north side. That includes Peter Barry as it is where he grew up. I had the pleasure, as Lord Mayor, of proposing him for the freedom of the city, and there was a really strong sense in the council at the time that there was cross-party support for what Peter Barry had done for our charities, our community groups and particularly our sporting organisations as well as what he achieved in politics. He was a great mentor to all of us, not least me in an adjoining constituency, dealing with big beasts like Bernard Allen and Liam Burke. His legacy to the people of Cork and politics means we are left in a much stronger position by virtue of Peter's presence.

I concur with what has been said. During my term as Lord Mayor, two people gave me the same advice. One was a sitting Minister for foreign affairs and one was a former Minister. They were Deputy Martin and Peter Barry. They told me the best job I would have in politics would be Lord Mayor and I should enjoy it while I had it because it gets much rougher after that. As Deputy Ó Laoghaire and others have said, Peter Barry and others have shown politics in a good light, and sometimes when we get into a robust debate, it is good to remember that no matter where one comes from, it is always worthwhile being a gentleman.

Members rose.