Tuesday 6 December 2016

Justice Adrian Hardiman was that rare thing in Irish life - a true liberal

Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30

Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman died suddenly this week aged just 64. He knew that the good of equality needs to be balanced against other goods like freedom of association and freedom of speech. Photo: Collins
Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman died suddenly this week aged just 64. He knew that the good of equality needs to be balanced against other goods like freedom of association and freedom of speech. Photo: Collins

The premature death of Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman is a huge loss to Irish public life because Adrian Hardiman was that very rare thing: a true liberal. By this I mean someone who believes first and foremost in personal liberty and in setting down limits on the power of the State, rather than in the choking, stifling political correctness that passes for 'liberalism' today.

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His classical form of liberalism put him at odds with both social conservatives and the left. Back in 1983, he was opposed to inserting a pro-life clause - the 8th Amendment - into the Irish Constitution on the grounds that it was motivated by an "authoritarian" morality that would put limits on personal freedom.

He was opposed to the ban on divorce for the same reason.

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