Barry studied at University College Dublin and the University of Glasgow before becoming a lecturer at Keele University. In 2000, he moved to work at Queen's University Belfast. In January 2003, he was elected as joint leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, a position he still holds alongside Kelly Andrews. He stood unsuccessfully in North Down at the Northern Ireland Assembly election, 2003. He also stood in the Holywood ward for the local elections in 2005 and narrowly missed being elected.
Barry is was Acting Director of the Institute of Governance, Public Policy and Social Research at Queen's University Belfast and is Reader in Politics in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.
He has written many books and academic articles on sustainable development, environmental policy and the economics of sustainability. He is co-editor of two academic journals, Environmental Politics and Ecopolitics Online.
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