Richard Boyd Barrett

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Person.png Richard Boyd Barrett   TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Richard Boyd Barrett.jpg
Born6 February 1967
Alma materUniversity College Dublin

Richard Boyd Barrett (born 6 February 1967) is an Irish People Before Profit (PBP) politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency since the 2011 General Election in Ireland.[1]

Boyd Barrett is chair of the Irish Anti-War Movement and has been cited on war issues in the Irish media.[2][3][4]

Family and education

Richard Boyd Barrett was adopted as a baby. He was raised as a Roman Catholic in Glenageary, County Dublin, by his parents, David Boyd Barrett, an accountant, and his wife, Valerie. He attended St Michael's College in Dublin. He holds a master's degree in English literature from University College Dublin.[5]

His birth mother is Sinéad Cusack, with whom he was later reunited in public.[6] The Cusack-Boyd Barrett connection was revealed to the public in the last week of Boyd Barrett's unsuccessful attempt to be elected to the Dáil, at the 2007 General Election; Cusack, a vocal opponent of the Iraq War, canvassed for him. Political commentators incorrectly claimed that Boyd Barrett had leaked his connection with Cusack for political gains; it was actually a meeting of Sunday Independent journalist Liam Collins and the same newspaper's security correspondent Jim Cusack that led to its publication.[7] While both were dining out in Dún Laoghaire, the security correspondent mentioned to Collins: "I heard Sinéad Cusack is his mother". Collins had political reporter Daniel McConnell call Boyd Barrett to ask him. Boyd Barrett asked that it not be published as it was private family information that had nothing to do with his role as a public representative, though, when it was, his mother was then in a position to campaign for him. Since their reunion, Boyd Barrett has had a good relationship with Cusack, her husband Jeremy Irons, and his half-brothers, Sam and Max.[8] In May 2013, he revealed that theatre director Vincent Dowling was his biological father.[9]

Political career

Local politics

Boyd Barrett contested the 2004 Irish local elections for Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council. He was not elected and received 1,439 votes (7.4% of the poll). In 2009, he was elected to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, winning 22.8% of the vote and topping the poll.

National politics

Boyd Barrett stood in the Dún Laoghaire constituency at the 2002 General Election for the Socialist Workers Party and at the 2007 General Election for People Before Profit. This switch of identification was intended to increase his support from non-socialist voters.[10] In the run-up to the election in 2007 he participated in high-profile campaigns against high-rise development, bin and water charges, privatisation of hospitals and support for the Rossport Five. Boyd Barrett lost to Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party by 9,910 votes to 7,890 votes on the 10th count.[11]

Boyd Barrett again contested the Dún Laoghaire constituency at the 2011 General Election as part of the United Left Alliance.[12] On the ballot paper, Boyd Barrett was named a member of People Before Profit, because the United Left Alliance had not yet been registered as a political party.[13]

He was elected on the 10th count without reaching the quota.[14][15] This followed a "nail-biting two days" of counting and recounting votes.[16]

Dáil Éireann

As a TD, Boyd Barrett, supported protests against cuts to Dublin Bus services, saying that "Some of the older and disabled people are literally prisoners in their homes now as a result of the cut or discontinuation of the service they previously relied on".[17] In Dáil Éireann, he condemned the 2011 murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr as "an utterly brutal action, which leads back down a road which has failed".[18] He drafted the text of the first Private Members' motion which suggests there is an "overwhelming democratic case" for putting the EU-IMF bank bailout to a referendum of the Irish people.[19] He also committed to facilitating the nomination of Senator David Norris for a place on the ballot paper ahead of the 2011 Irish presidential election,[20] and welcomed the release of Teresa Treacy, who was imprisoned for contempt of court over a land development dispute with the ESB Group and Eirgrid.[21] Marie O'Halloran in The Irish Times described his "consistently passionate outrage and opposition to the Government's handling of the post-2008 Irish economic downturn banking crisis."[22]

Boyd Barrett spoke at the Dublin location of the 15 October 2011 global protests, inspired by the Anti-austerity movement in Spain and the Occupy Wall Street movements.[23] The same month he said Enda Kenny's government was engaging in "spin and disingenuity" to cover up its austerity policies, decrying the closure of hospital emergency departments around the country for "health and safety" reasons.[24]

On 2 November 2011, Boyd Barrett led the United Left Alliance TDs out of the Dáil, in protest against the government's decision not to hold a debate on the payment of more than €700 million to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders:

"You will not even give the parliament the right to vote on the handover of all the money you have taken out of the health service", he objected.[25] On 15 December 2011, he helped launch a nationwide campaign against a proposed household charge being brought in as part of the 2012 Irish budget.[26]

The Phoenix magazine reported that, after a Technical group meeting with the Troika on 17 January 2012,[27] another member of the Technical Group, Mick Wallace, confronted Boyd Barrett and angrily criticised him for "ignoring their advance strategy of dividing up questions between them and dominating the meeting with a raft of his own queries and assertions.[28] Boyd Barrett was part of an Oireachtas delegation that met the Bundestag's Budgetary and European Affairs committees in Berlin, in late January 2012.[29]

On 10 March 2016, at the first sitting of the 32nd Dáil, he was one of four candidates nominated for the position of Taoiseach, all of whom failed to reach a majority. Ruth Coppinger nominated Boyd Barrett for the role, quoting James Connolly from a hundred years previously when she said:

"The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system. It must go" and declaring: "We will not vote for the identical twin candidates" of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, after they "imposed austerity". Bríd Smith seconded the nomination.[30] The nomination of Boyd Barrett was defeated by 9 votes to 111.[31]

Foreign policy

Boyd Barrett helped to organise mass protests against the war in Iraq in 2003.[32][33] He addressed the Dublin leg of the 20 March 2003 International Day of Action.[34] He said that it was "almost certain" that any war would lead to between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths.[35] He said "the complicity of the Irish Government in this murderous war through providing facilities for the US military at Shannon airport" was "an absolute disgrace" and urged people to protest in their thousands "to show this carnage is not being mounted in our names".[36] In 2009, he supported the pro-democracy protests in Iran.[37]

In March 2005, according to the Irish Anti-War organisation, Boyd Barrett attended the Cairo Anti-war Conference in Cairo, Egypt, focusing on American intervention in Iraq.[38]

In 2007, he called for Ibrahim Moussawi, head of the Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV station, to be allowed to enter Ireland to attend a Dublin conference organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement. According to the Irish Independent, Boyd Barrett said that banning Moussawi amounted to the suppression of "free public debate in the country".[39]

In April 2009, Boyd Barrett addressed the Al-Aqsa Conference in Dublin.[40] He said that Israel is "a state built on violence, oppression and apartheid" and "has no right to exist as long as it denies rights to Palestinians."

Expelling the Israeli ambassador

Speaking in 2014 to a Committee in the Irish Parliament, Richard Boyd Barrett berates the Israeli Ambassador

On 14 May 2021, as Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip with air raids and artillery shells as it stepped up the deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave,[41] Richard Boyd Barrett called on the Irish Government to expel the Israeli ambassador and impose sanctions on the rogue state of Israel.[42]

On 21 May 2021, Richard Boyd Barrett tweeted:

Hours after so called ceasefire, Israel sends troops into Al Aqsa mosque firing stun grenades. Further proof that Israel is a rogue, apartheid state & has no interest in peace. Join a protest tomorrow, demand sanctions and expulsion of Israeli ambassador. #IsraelBrokeTheCeasefire[43]

On 26 May 2021, a Dáil motion, tabled by Sinn Féin, was passed condemning the “recent and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied Palestinian territory” and describing the annexation of Palestinian territory as a violation of international law. An amendment tabled by People Before Profit, calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and to impose sanctions against Israel was defeated by a vote of 46 in favour and 87 against. Dublin TD Richard Boyd Barrett, one of the proposers of the amendment, said:

“It is now high time that the Dail and the Irish government move from words of sympathy and support for the people of Palestine to effective action.

“The chronic repression, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and apartheid system that has brutalised the Palestinian people has to be treated like the South African apartheid regime was treated.

“There must be zero tolerance for Israel’s ongoing and systematic violation of basic human rights for Palestinians, just as there was for Apartheid South Africa.

“There is a historic opportunity for us here in Ireland, who have previously experienced oppression from an occupying power, to lead the international community in taking effective action against the Israeli regime who are inflicting untold misery and brutality on the people of Palestine.”[44]


  1. "Richard Boyd Barrett"
  2. "Gardaí relax Dromoland protest restriction"
  3. "Harney The Deal Breaker"
  4. "Jim: Let U.S. Troops Land in Donegal"
  5. "The twist of fate that links Richard Boyd Barrett and Fr Michael Cleary"
  6. "Cusack reunited with son she gave up for adoption"
  7. "All heart: the life and loves of Sinéad Cusack"
  8. "I'm glad Richard found connection to Vincent – Irons"
  9. "Dowling was my father, his death saddens me"
  10. "Socialist? Yes but not always"
  11. "Ciarán Cuffe"
  12. "Higgins and Boyd Barrett to contest election under left-wing alliance"
  13. "Election Briefs: ULA not to be on ballot paper"
  14. "Hanafin falls in Dún Laoghaire"
  15. "Boyd-Barrett takes last Dún Laoghaire seat"
  16. "Fresh-minted TDs emerge from 'Group of Death'"
  17. "Protest over Dublin Bus cuts"
  18. "Politicians unite, for once, to condemn callous killing"
  19. "Prominent TDs in Left Alliance deny split over motion"
  20. "Boost for Norris as left-wing TDs to support nomination"
  21. "Richard Boyd Barrett welcomes the release of pensioner Teresa Tracey"
  22. "Noonan concedes Boyd Barrett has an economic point"
  23. "Protests held in Dublin, Cork"
  24. "Socialists target Government's political agenda"
  25. "Michael Noonan defends 'lesser of two evils'"
  26. "TDs would go to jail over household charge"
  27. "Troika holds Opposition meetings"
  28. "ULA Agenda: The First Item"
  29. "Oireachtas delegation in Bundestag meeting"
  30. "Parties nominate their leaders to be the next Taoiseach"
  31. "Nomination of Taoiseach"
  32. "Large crowd expected at anti-war rally in Dublin"
  33. "Cusack's son Boyd Barrett springs another surprise
  34. "Thousands prepare to march against Irish role in Iraq war
  35. "Unions seek support for anti-war day
  36. "Irish anti-war movement calls for mass protests"
  37. "Irish Anti-War Movement Defend the right of Iranians to protest for democratic change"
  38. "Irish Anti-War Movement"
  39. "War of words over Islamist's Irish visit"
  40. "Violence in Gaza a 'victory' for Palestinians"
  41. "Israel pounds Gaza with air raids, shelling"
  42. "Expel the Israeli ambassador and impose sanctions on the rogue state of Israel"
  43. "Demand sanctions and expulsion of Israeli ambassador"
  44. "Dáil declares Israeli settlements in Palestine amount to annexation"
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