Ray MacSharry was born on April 29, 1938, educated in Sligo, he went on to become a haulier and a small business executive.
Ray became involved in local politics and was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1969, going on to be appointed Minister for State at the Departments of Finance and Public Works a decade later.
Later in 1979, when Charles Haughey and the Fianna Fáil party were elected to government. Ray MacSharry became Minister for Agriculture, going on to become Tánaiste and Minister for Finance. in 1982.
Ray MacSharry resigned from the Fianna Fáil front bench in 1983 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 “bribed” to support efforts to depose Haughey, with the equipment being used to record any attempts made to offer bribes.
Ray MacSharry started his political comeback in 1984 when he was elected to the European Parliament.
Three years later, in 1987 Charles Haughey was returned to power and Ray 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.
Ray MacSharry was later rewarded by Charles Haughey with the appointment of EU Commissioner.
As EU Commissioner, MacSharry 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, who had been injured in an accident, which led to claims by Princess Diana that the event showed Prince Charles to be an uncaring father.
Ray MacSharry was widely tipped to be a future leader of the Fianna Fáil party, but indicated that he had no such ambition.
Following the completion of his term as EU 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.