Seán Barrett (Irish politician)

Seán Barrett (Irish politician)

Seán Barrett (born 9 August 1944) [cite web |url= |title=Mr. Sean Barrett |author= |work=Oireachtas Members Database |date= |accessdate=2008-01-12] is an Irish Fine Gael politician. A former cabinet minster, he is currently a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency.

Early life

He was educated at C.B.C. Monkstown and Presentation Brothers College in Glasthule, Co Dublin. Before Barrett entered politics he was a partner in a successful Dublin-based insurance brokerage firm (Barrett, Hegarty Moloney, established in 1980).cite web |url= |title=Sean Barrett TD |author= |work=Fine Gael website |date= |accessdate=2008-01-12] A keen fan of horse-racing,cite news |url= |title=FG Chief Whip to step down at next election |author=Karl Brophy |work=The Irish Examiner |date=20 November 1999 |accessdate=2008-01-12] in 1987 he also established Sean Barrett Bloodstock Insurances Ltd.

Political career

He first became involved in local politics, serving on Dublin County Council from 1974 until 1982. He was a member of Dublin County Council between 1991 and 1993 and then served as a member of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council until 1995.

At the 1977 general election, Barrett stood as a Fine Gael candidate in the Dublin County South, but failed to win a seat. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann when he stood in the Dún Laoghaire constituency at the 1981 general election, where he was returned at each subsequent election until his retirement at the 2002 general election. He came out of retirement to successfully contest the 2007 general election.cite web |url= |title= Sean Barrett |author= | |date= |accessdate=2008-01-12]

In December 1982 Garret FitzGerald became Taoiseach for the second time and Barrett was appointed Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Departments of An Taoiseach and Defence. Between February 1986 and March 1987 he served as Leader of the House with responsibility for Dáil Reform and Minister of State at the Department of Education.

John Bruton's Rainbow Coalition came to power in 1994 and Barrett was again appointed as Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Departments of An Taoiseach and Defence. In 1995 the late Hugh Coveney TD resigned from the Cabinet in controversial circumstances. Barrett was then appointed Minister for Defence and Minister for the Marine. During his tenure Barrett dealt with the army deafness compensation issue that ultimately resulted in claims of approximately £300 million (€381 million) altogether against the State. There were approximately 9,000 claims by soldiers whose deafness arose from a failure to wear appropriate ear protection during firing exercises. There are 8,500 men and women serving in the Irish Army in 2006. Barrett's short ministerial career was blighted by critical remarks from Garda and army officers directed towards the Minister. His term as Minister ended when the Government lost power in the 1997 general election.

In 1999, he announced that he would not contest the next election, saying "at this stage, I believe it is time to make way for the next generation who must be given the chance to make their own contribution."

When Barrett, Liam T. Cosgrave and Monica Barnes were each first elected in 1981, Fine Gael secured three of the five seats and 48% of the first preference vote in Dún Laoghaire. But this massive vote of confidence waned over the following years and when Barrett and Barnes retired at the 2002 general election, Fine Gael failed to win even one seat in Dún Laoghaire. [cite web |url= |title=General Election, 17 May 2002: Dun Laoghaire |author= |work= | |date= |accessdate=2008-01-12]


In February 2006 Barrett announced that he wanted to come back from retirement, and stand again as a Fine Gael candidate at the next general election. He insisted that he would stand only if selected by the local party members, and would not accept being imposed as a candidate by Fine Gael headquarters. [cite news |url= |title=Barrett returns to contest election |author=Fionnan Sheahan |work=The Irish Independent |date= 17 May 2006|accessdate=2008-01-12]

At a selection meeting in Dalkey in May 2006, Barrett and barrister Eugene Regan were chosen as Fine Gael's two candidates in the Dún Laoghaire constituency. [cite news |url= |title=Barrett wins right to fight for seat at next election |author=Fionnan Sheahan |work=The Irish Independent |date=31 May 2006 |accessdate=2008-01-12] With return of Barrett, the party was confident of winning two of the five seats, but at the general election in May 2007, Barrett was the fourth candidate returned to the 30th Dáil and Regan was not elected.

Barrett did not return to Fine Gael's front bench, but became Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security. [cite news |url= |title=Committee chairmanships announced |author= |work=The Irish Times |date=24 October 2007 |accessdate=2008-01-12]

The Mahon Tribunal

In evidence to The Mahon Tribunal on 8 June 2006, [cite web | title = Evidence of Seán Barrett to Mahon Tribunal, 8 June 2006 | url = |work = The Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters & Payments| accessdate = 2006-08-12 |format=PDF] Barrett stated that while a member of Dublin County Council in the early 1990s, he was approached by a stranger with a proposition that he would be paid a professional consultancy fee of approximately £80,000 (€101,600) to assist in a land-swap involving either Killiney Golf Club or Dún Laoghaire Golf Club with land owned at Cherrywood, County Dublin by Monarch Properties, a property development company. Barrett told the Tribunal that he immediately rejected this proposition and acknowledged that had be accepted this would have brought him into conflict with his role as a councillor. He also expressed disgust at rumours that circulated in the Irish media and elsewhere over the past decade, or so, to the effect that he accepted large payments which he categorically told the Tribunal was not the case.

He did receive an unsolicited cheque for £600 in 1991 which he told the Tribunal was lodged to a Fine Gael Dún Laoghaire constituency bank account. Documentation provided by the Tribunal showed that Barrett received a cheque for £500 prior to the November 1992 election, that he had no recollection of. A further cheque for £1,000 was paid by Monarch Properties in respect of a constituency fund raising gala dinner, to Fine Gael in 1995.

Fine Gael condemns Barrett 'outrage'

A report in The Irish Times [cite news | url =|title = FG condemns Barrett tribunal 'outrage' | date = 2006-07-15 | publisher = The Irish Times | accessdate = 2006-08-13 ] on 15 July 2006 described the Tribunal "as an outrage and a disgrace" for allowing unfounded allegations to be made against Barrett. Fine Gael, through its solicitor, expressed regret to the Tribunal on 25 July for this remark, describing it as 'inappropriate'. [cite web | title = Correspondence with Kevin O'Higgins, solicitor for Fine Gael, 25 July 2006 | url = |work = The Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters & Payments| accessdate = 2006-08-12 |format=PDF]


External links

* [ Seán Barrett's page on the Fine Gael website]
* [ Irish Army]
* [ Dún Laoghaire Golf Club]
* [ Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security]

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