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Ray MacSharry

Ray MacSharry (born April 29, 1938), Fianna Fáil politician and Tánaiste (1982).

Table of contents
1 Ministerial career
2 Bugging Scandal in 1983
3 EU Commissioner
4 Ray, Charles and Diana
5 Business Career

Ministerial career

Ray MacSharry was born in County Sligo. He was educated locally and became a haulier and a small business executive. He became involved in local politics and was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1969. In 1979 he was appointed Minister for State at the Departments of Finance and Public Works, the lower rank of Irish governmental posts below cabinet rank, often called Junior Ministers. In December 1979 he nominated Charles Haughey for the leadership of Fianna Fáil. He was later rewarded for this loyalty by becoming Minister for Agriculture in Haughey's first government. In the short-lived Fianna Fáil government of 1982 MacSharry was appointed Tánaiste and Minister for Finance.

Bugging Scandal in 1983

In 1983 he resigned from the Fianna Fáil front bench due to a telephone-tapping controversy, when it was revealed that as Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, he had borrowed police tape recorders to secretly record conversations with a cabinet colleague. MacSharry defended his action by saying that rumours were sweeping the party that he could be 'bought' (bribed) to support efforts to depose Haughey; he claimed used the equipment to record any attempts made to offer bribes. The scandal was however primarily focused on the decision by the Minister for Justice, Sean Doherty, to bug the phones of two leading political journalists to discover their anti-Haughey sources. MacSharry was a secondary but high profile casuality of the scandal, as the equipment he had used had been supplied by Doherty, who had requested it from the Garda Commissioner (Irish police commissioner), who was also forced to resign when the scandal hit the headlines.

EU Commissioner

In 1984, MacSharry's rehabilitation began when he was elected to the European Parliament. In 1987 Haughey returned to power and MacSharry was appointed to the most senior cabinet post, that of Minister for Finance. He 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. MacSharry was subsequently rewarded by Haughey with the appointment to be Ireland's EC Commissioner (now known as EU Commissioner).

Ray, Charles and Diana

As Commissioner he famously became caught up in the rows between Britain's warring Prince and Princess of Wales, when the Prince, on behalf of Britain, attended a public function with MacSharry, rather than rush to hospital to see his young son, Prince William of Wales, who had been injured in an accident. (MacSharry subsequently rubbished Prince Diana's claim that the event showed Prince Charles to be an uncaring father, revealing that Charles had spent the entire function in minute by minute contact with the hospital.)

Business Career

Ray MacSharry was widely tipped to be a future leader of Fianna Fáil but indicated that he had no such ambition. Following the completion of his term as Commissioner, MacSharry retired from politics to pursue business interests. MacSharry 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.