Ray MacSharry

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Ray MacSharry : biography

29 April 1938 –

Political comeback and European Commissioner

MacSharry spent a number of years in the political wilderness following the phone-tapping scandal. He was elected to the European Parliament as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Connacht–Ulster in 1984.

Following the 1987 general election MacSharry was returned to the Dáil once again. He resigned his European Parliament seat when he was appointed Minister for Finance in Haughey’s new government. During his second tenure in charge of finance, MacSharry committed himself to bringing order to the public finances and the poor economic situation. His ruthless cutting of state spending earned him the nickname Mack the Knife.

During this time he came to be identified as Haughey’s heir apparent as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader. MacSharry, however, had no such aspirations and had actually wanted to leave politics by the time he was forty-five. He was now fifty and had achieved some of the highest offices in the Irish government. In 1988 MacSharry’s loyalty to Haughey was rewarded when he was appointed European Commissioner. As a result of this he resigned his Dáil seat and ended his domestic political career.

MacSharry is well known as the first commissioner of agriculture to be able to work out a meaningful compromise on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in 1992. The MacSharry reforms as they are known, mark the turning point between the "old" CAP policy, and the "new", although many other reforms followed his.

Retirement from politics

Following the completion of his term as Commissioner, MacSharry retired from politics to pursue business interests. He is currently a director on the boards of a variety of companies including Bank of Ireland and Ryanair Holdings. In 1999 he was appointed chairman of Eircom plc. MacSharry is also a member of the Comite d’Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs.

MacSharry is a non-executive director of Irish Life and Permanent and receives pension payments of €88,936 every year.

Private life

MacSharry is married to Elaine and the couple had six children. One of his sons, Marc MacSharry, is a current member of Seanad Éireann, while his nephew Tom MacSharry was a Councillor on Sligo Borough Council, 2004–09, and served as Mayor in 2006–07.