The European Community (EC) commissioner Ray MacSharry has announced that he is to retire from public life when he ends his term of office in January 1993.
Colm Connolly profiles the ups and downs of the career of Ray MacSharry ahead of him stepping down as EC Commissioner.
Ray MacSharry's political career began in 1967 when he took seats on Sligo Corporation and the County Council. In 1969 he took a Dáil seat and went on to become a regular poll topper at election time. However, in 1982 his position was badly shaken when a Fianna Fáil strategy of electing a third TD in a four seat constituency came within a hundred votes of backfiring on him.
In 1977 he became junior Finance Minister under George Colley but when Colley stood for the Fianna Fáil party leadership in 1979, MacSharry nominated the other contender for the role, Charles Haughey. MacSharry was rewarded for his loyalty to Haughey with a new position as Minister for Agriculture. In 1982 during another leadership battle, he stood by Haughey and subsequently became Tánaiste and Minister for Finance. However, problems loomed as his colleague Martin O'Donoghue approached MacSharry about switching his allegiance from Charles Haughey. MacSharry secretly recorded the conversation. Now in opposition, he was forced to resign from the shadow front bench.
I am quite satisfied that the actions I took were justified.
MacSharry went on to top the European election of 1984 but returned to national politics in 1987 as Minister for Finance and the Public Service. In 1989 he became EC Commissioner for Agriculture and went on to complete the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). As a supporter of businessmen such as Larry Goodman, Ray MacSharry hit the headlines again with criticism of the Beef Tribunal.
I am just sick and tired of tribunals, investigations, and inquiries that are going to in fact not tell us any more than we knew the day before they ever started.
When asked if he had aspirations to become leader of Fianna Fáil, he has been consistently resolute in his response stating,
I wouldn't even qualify.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 August 1992. The reporter is Colm Connolly.