Former Attorney General and European Commissioner Peter Sutherland dies aged 71


Former attorney general and former European commissioner Peter Sutherland has died at the age of 71.

A passionate advocate of globalisation and the European Union and one of Ireland's best known public figures on the worldwide stage, Sutherland continued in his role as United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for global Migration until close to his death.

A native of Dublin, he was educated at Gonzaga College, University College Dublin and King's Inns, and quickly established himself as an accomplished barrister.

He was appointed as attorney general in June 1981 by the then Taoiseach Dr Garret Fitzgerald.

In a statement, the Sutherland family said he passed away on Sunday morning in St James's Hospital in Dublin after a long illness.

"He was a statesman in every sense of the word; an Irishman, a committed European and a proud internationalist", he said in a statement.

"Throughout his life he was a champion for individual and economic freedoms".

"His contribution internationally to business, politics, migration and human rights will not be forgotten", Juncker said.

"He believed strongly in the work of the European Union and other worldwide organisations and their importance for cooperation and global dialogue".

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His business roles included stints as chairman of Allied Irish Bank, finance firm Goldman Sachs and oil company BP.

Mr Sutherland held a number of senior positions in the worlds of law, business and government during his career.

Sutherland is survived by his wife Maruja, three children and several grandchildren.

"In recent years he dedicated his skills and extensive experience to serving for the United Nations where he was tireless in highlighting the plight of migrants".

In 1993 he became the first director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), having overseen its formation out of another body he headed, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin described Mr Sutherland as a "true patriot" who made an outstanding contribution to public life not just in Ireland but around the world.

"I was a very close friend of Peter".

Sutherland became the youngest-ever European commissioner in 1985 at the age of 38, in charge of competition and briefly education under European Commission President Jacques Delors.