He was forced into extraordinary theatrical feats to prove his worth. In November 1992 he was closeted in a Chicago hotel for days with his US opposite number trying to cut a deal. But the talks failed. Mr MacSharry resigned his job as a negotiator, claiming that he had been undercut by Jacques Delors, his boss. Mr Delors climbed down, and the Irishman came back, his status firmly underpinned. Days later, a US-EU farm trade package - the Blair House deal - was agreed. It became the linchpin of the package agreed yesterday.
His single-mindedness, memory for detail and driving energy made the most difficult dossier - agriculture - possible. Mr Mac Sharry returned to Ireland and to business last year, saying his public career was over.