Thursday 8 December 2016

I've always resented long holidays, says retiring judge

Published 25/04/2015 | 02:30

Mr Justice Paul Carney
Mr Justice Paul Carney

"Carlsberg don't do judges, but if they did…" Chairman of the Bar Council David Barniville let his voice trail off as he nodded toward Mr Justice Paul Carney.

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After 24 years, Ireland's most senior crime judge Mr Carney retired from the Supreme Court Bench yesterday.

Court 4 was packed to the rafters as colleagues and contemporaries came to bid him farewell.

Mr Justice Carney (72), took to the bench in 1991, and has presided over 150 rape and murder cases - more than any other judge in the history of the State.

These include many high-profile cases involving Wayne O'Donoghue who was convicted of the manslaughter of 11-year-old Cork schoolboy Robert Holohan in 2006, convicted killer Michael Bambrick and so-called 'scissor sisters' Linda and Charlotte Mulhall.

In 2013, he was also part of the three-judge panel who presided over the case of MS sufferer Marie Fleming, who was seeking the right to die.

Though her request was denied, the judges issued a statement to say that the UCD professor had "humbled and inspired" them.

Mr Justice Carney ran into his fair share of controversy during his long career: his decision to sentence Patrick O'Brien (72) to 12 years with nine of them suspended for repeatedly raping his daughter Fiona Doyle when she was a child, received widespread criticism.

He also granted continuing bail to the rapist pending a sentencing appeal, but revoked it a week later and was prepared to apologise to the victim for his "confusing" decision.

David Barniville described Mr Justice Carney as "a traditionalist" who was "simply the best and irreplaceable".

"As a judge you have been fiercely independent and utterly impartial," Barniville said. He joked that Carney could not be described as "a barrel of laughs", but his career displayed "extraordinary industry and dedication".

Attorney General Maire Whelan added: "The people of Ireland are indebted to you."

"You were unafraid to speak your mind, and push boundaries to effect change," she said.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Donal O'Cualain said the judge's insistence on high standards had influenced gardaí.

Displaying his trademark self-deprecating wit, Mr Justice Carney claimed he "didn't recognise the man" the members of council were referring to.

He went on to describe the afternoon as a "black day" and admitted that leaving the courts behind would take some getting used to.

"Today is a very black day for me," he said. "I have worked for half a century. I have never pulled 'sickies' and have always resented the length of vacation associated with these occupations."

Irish Independent

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