- 16 May 23
Tánaiste Micheál Martin leads tributes to Peter Brooke following his death.
Former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, has died at the age of 89, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin and President Michael D. Higgins paying tribute this morning.
The UK politician was chairman of the Conservative Party and served as Britain’s national heritage secretary during his lifetime. He played "a pivotal role in the Northern Irish Peace Process," said the Tánaiste in a tweet, adding that Brooks "helped pave the way for an end to violence".
Very sorry to hear of the passing of former Secretary of State for NI Peter Brooke.
Peter played a pivotal role in the emerging Northern Ireland peace process, helping pave the way for an end to violence.
My condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) May 15, 2023
“My condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.”
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, also paid tribute to the politician today in a statement.
"It is with sadness at his passing that I would like to pay tribute to Peter Brooke, who served in the Government of the United Kingdom, including as Secretary for Northern Ireland, during which time he made an positive and valuable contribution at a significant juncture in the peace process," the speech on the President's website reads.
"It was during his time as Secretary of State for National Heritage that I met Peter Brooke. I recall with great fondness the discussions which we had on his ancestor Charlotte Brooke, who published 'Reliques of Irish Poetry' towards the end of the 18th century, which featured Irish poetry both in the Irish language and her own translations in English of each poem. I recall his efforts in finding some of Charlotte Brooke's work in which I assisted him.
"One couldn't but be struck by the great openness of spirit and charm which Peter Brooke had. He was someone who brought a generous vision to politics and one of my most abiding memories is his love of books," President Higgins added.
Among my papers is a lovely handwritten letter which he sent to me after stepping down as a Member of Parliament, about which he was not only philosophical but humorous. What he brought to politics was not just a commitment to the value of politics, but of warm and open relationships. He will be missed."
Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the death of Peter Brooke https://t.co/PYTkd0DE1E
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) May 15, 2023
Brooke had four sons from his first marriage to Joan Margaret Smith in 1964. Joan tragically passed away from complications after a routine surgical procedure. In 1991, he married Lindsay Allen, who was a former constituency agent he met through the Conservative Party.
Brooke went on to become Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, a title granted to him by by former British prime minister John Major and then-Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.
He left the Northern Ireland Office before Major’s peace initiative in 1993, but is remembered for his involvement in the early stages of the peace process.
He was educated at Marlborough, Balliol, Oxford University (where he was president of the Union) and Harvard Business School. He fought for numerous seats, including Bedwellty against Neil Kinnock, before his election as MP for City of London and Westminster South in 1977.
Brooke then served as Northern Ireland secretary from 1989 to 1992, causing controversy during his time for singing My Darling Clementine on RTE’s The Late Late Show in January 1992.
It was in the immediate aftermath of the Co Tyrone massacre and severely damaged relations with the unionist parties. Brooke told MPs in a statement to the Commons the following Monday that although his actions were “innocent in intent” they were “patently an error”.
He proceeded to place his resignation before the Prime Minister after his candid apology. However, Major expressed full confidence in Brooke and refused his resignation.
Brooke finally stepped down from Government in the summer of 1994, during the prime minister's reshuffle. He stepped down from the Commons in 2001 with life peerage.