TWO new Supreme Court judges, Mary Laffoy and Elizabeth Dunne, have been formally appointed by President Michael D Higgins.
The former High Court justices were sworn in this afternoon at Aras an Uachtarain and will make their formal declarations in the Supreme Court tomorrow morning.
The fresh appointments ends Chief Justice Susan Denham's spell as the only woman on the country's highest court.
The appointment of the new judges, which temporarily swells the number of judges sitting on the Supreme Court to 10, will help alleviate delays of up to four years at the final court of appeal pending the introduction of a new Court of Appeal.
Last night (TUE) Mr Shatter said that the nine judge Court of Appeal will be operational next year following a successful referendum to establish the dedicated, interim court.
Judge Laffoy is the former chair of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, who won widespread praise when she resigned her position in 2003 amid claims of a lack of government co-operation.
Judge Dunne, whose landmark 2009 ruling in a series of mortgage actions forced the Government to close a loophole in repossessions law, is highly regarded for her expertise in debt and banking law.
Four of the most senior justice positions are, for the first time, now held by women, including that of Chief Justice Susan, Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus, Attorney General Maire Whelan and Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon.
Separately, the President of the District Court, Rosemary Horgan, has paid tribute to Judge Clare Leonard, who retired from that court after
This morning (WED), Judge Horgan said that Judge Leonard, who served for many years on the children's court, had served with a sincere, sensitive, intelligent and patient manner.
"She has also contributed to the legal world through her work on legal studies and especially through her writings on xenophobia and racism,"
said Judge Horgan.
President Horgan said that Judge Leonard had faced the "greatest challenge in the children's court - where she was ever conscious of the true nature of adolescence and mindful that detention was a last deterrent.
"A hallmark of her work was she treated every child, every case, every parent, as unique, and she dealt with every case with courtesy".
District Court Judge Mary Collins described her colleague as a private person, a true renaissance women with a myriad of interests to pursue in her retirement.
Several speakers from the Courts Service, legal professions, Gardai and probation service spoke of Judge Leonard's work at trying to save the person, rehabilitate, and not simply incarcerate people at their most vulnerable.
Judge Clare Leonard spoke last saying that if she knew she was so appreciated, she may not have retired.
"These 21 years have passed with a flash, it feels like I am on early release," said Judge Leonard.
She finished by saying it had been a privilege to work with all in the District Court.