The Gatt Deal: The dealers: fair, tough, urbane and direct: MacSharry: theatrical feats

RAY MacSHARRY, a tough ex-farmer from Sligo, was the Agriculture Commissioner for the European Union during the crucial period when the deal between Washington and Brussels on farm trade was struck last year, writes Andrew Marshall.

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.

(Photograph omitted)