Peter Sutherland: ‘Ireland’s most distinguished international statesman’

Irish business figures, academics and European leaders pay tribute

Leading academics, European figures and Irish business executives have reacted with sadness to the death of Peter Sutherland.

Mr Sutherland was praised for shaping both Ireland and Europe and was referred to as one of the "outstanding figures of his generation" by one commentator.

"Peter Sutherland had, by any standards, made a remarkable contribution not only to Irish public life but also in Europe and on the world stage. From early in his career, he showed his exceptional qualities, being appointed Ireland's youngest ever attorney general in 1981 at the age of 35 and the youngest ever EU commissioner when he was appointed to that role in 1985," NUI chancellor, Dr Maurice Manning, said.


The chief executive of business organisation Ibec noted that Mr Sutherland would be specifically remembered in the business community for his work with the EU and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).


“His skill and acumen in the private sector was matched by a sense of duty and dedication in his public roles. He will be a sad loss to Irish business and public life, as his wise counsel was always important to us in Ibec,” said Danny McCoy.

EU commissioner for agriculture, Phil Hogan, said Mr Sutherland was "probably Ireland's most distinguished international statesman", and leaves behind "a rich legacy of achievement".

“In all of the roles he performed, he did so with professionalism, enthusiasm and accomplishment,” he added.

Other European figures, including commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, said Peter Sutherland was a “true European”.

“Peter Sutherland reflected the core values of the European spirit in his everyday work and was convinced that, by working together, great things can be achieved,” he added.


Maurice Pratt, chairman of European Movement, an Irish NGO working on European affairs, said Peter Sutherland's extensive knowledge of "Irish-European affairs will be sorely missed".

“It is incumbent on all of us involved in European affairs to continue to champion the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, justice and peace which Peter believed in so passionately,” he said.

Meanwhile, the dean of the UCD Sutherland School of Law, Prof Imelda Maher, offered her condolences after saying that Mr Sutherland was a "passionate supporter of the school". She noted that UCD's law school was "named in his honour by the university – and not at his request – though he was clearly and rightly proud of it".

Mr Sutherland's funeral will take place at 11am on Thursday morning in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, followed by burial at Kilternan Cemetery Park.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business