Barry Desmond

Barry Seán Desmond (born 15 May 1935) is an Irish former Labour Party politician who served as a Member of the European Court of Auditors from 1994 to 2000, and as Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare between 1982 and 1987. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1989 to 1994, and as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1969 to 1989.[1]

Barry Desmond
Member of the European Court of Auditors
In office
13 July 1994  1 March 2000
Preceded byRichie Ryan
Succeeded byMáire Geoghegan-Quinn
Minister for Health
In office
14 December 1982  20 January 1987
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byMichael Woods
Succeeded byJohn Boland
Minister for Social Welfare
In office
14 December 1982  14 February 1986
TaoiseachGarret FitzGerald
Preceded byMichael Woods
Succeeded byGemma Hussey
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
In office
22 February 1982  4 July 1989
LeaderDick Spring
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byRuairi Quinn
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 1989  22 May 1994
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1977  June 1989
ConstituencyDún Laoghaire
In office
June 1969  June 1977
ConstituencyDún Laoghaire and Rathdown
Personal details
Barry Seán Desmond

(1935-05-15) 15 May 1935
Cork City, Ireland
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)Stella Murphy (m. 1960)
EducationColáiste Chríost Rí
Alma mater

He was born in Cork in 1935, and was educated at Coláiste Chríost Rí, the School of Commerce and University College Cork. He became a trade union official with the ITGWU (known later as SIPTU) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. His father Cornelius (Con) was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1965–66.[2]

Desmond first entered Dáil Éireann at the 1969 general election, when he was elected as a Labour Party TD for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. He retained his seat there in 1973 and was then elected in 1977 at Dún Laoghaire, where he won a seat at every election until his retirement from the Dáil in 1989.[3] From 1981 to 1982 he served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance, under Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach. In 1982, after Michael O'Leary's resignation as Labour Party leader, Dick Spring was elected as the party's new leader and Desmond was chosen as his deputy.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party together gained a majority in the November 1982 general election. In the second FitzGerald administration, Desmond was appointed Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Health. FitzGerald began a major cabinet reshuffle in February 1986, with the intention to appoint him as Minister for Justice; Desmond refused, and Spring supported him in that attitude. The outcome was that he remained as Minister for Health while Gemma Hussey took on the Social Welfare portfolio.[4] Desmond resigned from his remaining ministerial post on 20 January 1987, along with the other Labour ministers, bringing about the collapse of the government.

At the 1987 general election Fianna Fáil returned to power. Desmond did not contest the 1989 general election, and on 15 June 1989 he was elected as a Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Dublin, serving until 1994. He was then a member of the European Court of Auditors from 1994 to 2000, being replaced by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

He was elected president of the Maritime Institute of Ireland on 18 November 2006. He remains a member of the Council of the Maritime Institute of Ireland. As president he oversaw the revision of its articles of association and the securing of €3.2 million funding for the restoration of Mariners' Church, Dún Laoghaire, which houses the National Maritime Museum of Ireland.


  1. "Barry Desmond". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  2. "Macroom Road". Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  3. "Barry Desmond". Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  4. Kenny, Shane and Keane, Fergal, Irish Politics Now: 'This Week' Guide to the 25th Dáil, Dingle, Co. Kerry: Brandon/RTÉ, 1987, page 66
  • Desmond, Barry (June 2009). No Workers' Republic - Reflections on Labour and Ireland 1913–1967. Dublin: Watchword. ISBN 978-0-9557249-3-0.
  • European Parliament profile
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Woods
Minister for Social Welfare
Succeeded by
Gemma Hussey
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
John Boland
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