Austin Cathal Deasy (26 August 1936 – 10 June 2017) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Minister for Agriculture from 1982 to 1987. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Waterford constituency from 1977 to 2002. He was a Senator from 1973 to 1977, upon being Nominated by the Taoiseach.
Deasy was born in Dungarvan, and qualified as a secondary school teacher from University College Cork in 1963. He later worked as a teacher at St. Augustine's College. In 1967 Deasy was elected to Dungarvan Urban District Council and Waterford County Council and served in a number of capacities on these councils before his appointment to Seanad Éireann in 1973 and his eventual election to Dáil Éireann.
Immediately after his election Deasy was appointed to the Front Bench by Garret FitzGerald as Spokesperson for Fisheries, He remained in that position until 1979 when he became Spokesperson for Transport, Communications and Technology. After failing to be appointed to the government of Garret FitzGerald in 1981, Deasy returned to the Front Bench as Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs in 1982.
Following the formation of a coalition government in 1982, Deasy was appointed Minister for Agriculture, a position he retained until the collapse of the government in 1987.
Out of government Deasy was included on the Front Benches of Alan Dukes and John Bruton as a Spokesperson for Tourism and Transport, Spokesperson for Agriculture and Spokesperson for the Marine, until his return to the backbenches in 1993. From then until his retirement from politics almost a decade later he remained an outspoken critic of the Fine Gael party and of its leadership.
Deasy was born in Dungarvan, County Waterford in August 1936. He was educated at Dungarvan CBS before studying at University College Cork. He qualified as a secondary school teacher in 1963.
Immediately after graduating, Deasy joined the teaching staff of St. Augustine's College in Dungarvan.
Deasy was elected as a Fine Gael member of both Dungarvan Urban District Council and Waterford County Council in 1967, positions he held until 1983. He was chairman of the latter body in 1980-81 before reclaiming his seat on the Urban District Council between 1994 and 1999. Deasy was also a member of the Southeaster Health Board, Waterford Harbour Commissioners and Waterford Vocational Education Committee.
He contested the 1969 general election as a Fine Gael candidate for Waterford, however, he finished fifth in the three-seat constituency. Deasy finished in fifth position again when he stood as a candidate in the same constituency at the 1973 general election.
Deasy was selected as a candidate for the Cultural and Educational Panel for the subsequent election to Seanad Éireann in 1973, however, he was once again unsuccessful. In spite of this he was appointed to the Seanad as one of Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave's nominees.
Deasy contested his third general election in 1977. He was successful in being elected that time, taking the third seat in the newly expanded constituency and finishing ahead of his running mate Edward Collins. Fine Gael returned to opposition following that election, however, Deasy was immediately appointed to the Front Bench as Spokesperson for Fisheries. In a 1979 reshuffle he became Spokesperson for Transport, Communications and Technology, a position he held until early 1981 when he ceded the Communications and Technology elements of his brief.
Following the formation of a Fine Gael-Labour coalition government in 1981, Deasy was one of several Front Bench spokespersons who were unlucky not to be appointed to cabinet or to a Junior ministry.
The collapse of the coalition government in 1982 saw Deasy return to Garret FitzGerald's Front Bench as Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.
The formation of a new Fine Gael-Labour coalition in 1982 saw Deasy appointed to the position of Minister for Agriculture. During his four-year tenure in the position he was seen as an effective minister.
In 1988 Deasy resigned from the Fine Gael Party in protest against Alan Dukes' Tallaght Strategy in which Fine Gael would support the minority Fianna Fáil government. The following year Deasy tried unsuccessfully to remove Dukes as leader. Deasy returned to the Fine Gael front bench in 1991 after John Bruton became leader. Deasy later resigned again due to the financial difficulties of the party was facing. In 2000 Deasy introduced an unsuccessful motion of no confidence in Bruton.
Deasy was succeeded as TD by his son, John Deasy.
Deasy was married to the former Kathleen Keating and had four children: John, Jamie, Sally and Jane.
After a short illness Deasy died at University Hospital Waterford on 10 June 2017 at the age of 80.