Tuesday 21 November 2017

'A devoted servant of the law' is laid to rest

The remains of Retired High Court Judge Paul Carney at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook
The remains of Retired High Court Judge Paul Carney at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook
Alex White
Mary Harney and Brian Geoghegan
Nicholas Kearns
Reired Ms. Justice Catherine Mc Guinness
Hugh O'Flaherty
Dr. Marjorie Young (centre) attending the funeral of her late husband, Retired High Court Judge Paul Carney at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook.
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

His "all too early" death will be mourned by his family and the legal profession.

But laughter rang out around the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin, yesterday during the funeral service of High Court judge Mr Justice Paul Carney when the late judge's wig was presented by his daughter Rosalind.

Although many judges no longer wear their wigs in court, Judge Carney was a stickler for tradition, often insisting that barristers wear theirs in his courtroom - they always complied.

The wig, said chief celebrant Monsignor Lorcan O'Brien, was one from which Judge Carney "would not be parted".

Msgr O'Brien said Judge Carney was "a devoted servant of the law" for 50 years of his life.

As the country's most senior criminal law judge, he "knew better than most about human sin and evil and depravity," Msgr O'Brien told mourners including Judge Carney's wife Dr Marjorie Young and their children Rosalind, Philip, Jules and Jonathan.

"In the face of that knowledge, he remained a wise and just man," said Msgr O'Brien in his homily, adding that the late judge must have accepted trials during his long tenure on the bench - including some of the most serious criminal law cases to come before our courts - "at some significant cost to himself".

Judge Carney, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November, reluctantly retired from the bench last April after reaching the age of 72.

Almost all judges of the Superior Courts (Supreme, Court of Appeal and High Court) attended the funeral service, as well as many judges from the Circuit and District Courts.

Judges, serving and retired, who attended included the Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham, former Chief Justices Mr Justice Ronan Keane and Mr Justice John L Murray, as well as the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, and his wife Eleanor.

Retired Supreme Court judge Mrs Justice Catherine Mc Guinness, Brendan Ryan, the CEO of the Courts Service, David Barniville SC, Chairman of the Bar Council, and Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society, were also among a large number of people who attended the funeral service in Donnybrook.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice Donal Barrington, with whom Judge Carney had devilled as a young lawyer, was also amongst the mourners.

Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus, and Minister for Communications Alex White, former Tánaiste Mary Harney, former leader of the Progressive Democrats Des O'Malley, and former Minister Pat Rabbitte, as well as the British Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott, were also in attendance.

The President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their respective aides-de-camp Colonel Michael Kiernan and Commandant David Foley.

Five symbols of the late judge's life, including his wig, were brought to the altar.

Other symbols included Judge Carney's conferring parchment, a radio "to which his ear was usually attuned", and a Swedish book representing his early life and family - Judge Carney had lived in Sweden for two years as a child with his parents, both celebrated Celtic scholars.

Judge Carney's gavel was presented by Ann Solan, his loyal tipstaff of many years, who is also a cousin of the late judge.

The eulogy was delivered by retired solicitor John Rochford, a friend of the late judge who said he had decried the "awful increase" in violent crimes, including stabbings.

Mr Rochford said that Judge Carney, a "very fair" and a "very private" man, had successfully advocated for the abolition of the verdict of 'guilty but insane' for murder offences and had supported a change to our homicide laws to encourage more guilty pleas.

Mr Rochford said Judge Carney was a traditionalist and a conservative who lamented the loss of authority of the Catholic Church and who wanted to retain the tradition of wearing wigs and gowns in court to emphasise the importance of court process and procedures.

Special prayers were led for victims of violence and hatred.

The family of Judge Carney also thanked many courts staff who had assisted Judge Carney, including his long-serving registrar Mary Feerick and his former registrar Liam Convey.

Irish Independent

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