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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 930 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath] 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.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I call another Deputy from Cork South-Central, Deputy Ó Laoghaire.

Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh 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.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher 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.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe 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.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock 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.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Dara Murphy): Information on Dara Murphy Zoom on Dara Murphy 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.

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