Friday 13 December 2019

'Popular' retiring judge Barry White becomes emotional on his last day at the High Court

Judge White says: 'Your heart might tell you one thing and the law tells you another'

Mr Justice White, who retired today.
Mr Justice White, who retired today.
Mr Justice Barry White

Natasha Reid

A High Court judge became emotional today as he thanked his family on the eve of his retirement from the bench.

Mr Justice Barry White sat in the Central Criminal Court for the final time today.

By the time the case over which he was presiding had finished, a large number of well wishers, including his family, had arrived in the courtroom in Dublin’s Criminal Courts of Justice.

Patrick Gageby SC stood up and said that he had been given the singular honour by his colleagues at the bar of expressing their sorrow at losing an extremely eminent judge.

He said he knew it was not the judge’s desire to have any pomp but that he wished to mark the significant date.

Solicitor Dara Robinson said that he wished to echo Mr Gageby’s comments on behalf of the Law Society, while solicitor Liam Mulholland wished him a happy and healthy retirement on behalf of the DPP’s office.

On behalf of the Courts Service, registrar Mary Feerick thanked the judge for making her and her colleagues’ jobs enjoyable.

“You were always a popular judge,” she said, adding that he had generated an atmosphere of calm in the courtroom.

Sergeant Albert Bell wished him well on behalf of An Garda Siochána.

Mr Justice White then said that he had intended to simply slip out the back door of the court building following his last sitting. However, he said that he had had to ‘go public’ with his retirement in July when a barrister had demanded to know why he couldn’t hear his case next term.

“It was a privilege to serve as a judge,” he said.

However, he said that the task of a judge was not easy.

“You’re obliged to approach matters in a cold, calculated manner with patience,” he said. “It can be hard to determine a sentence or judgement. Your heart might tell you one thing and the law tells you another.”

He thanked his usher, Gerry Healy; the various registrars, especially Eileen Brennan; those who had practised before him and the media ‘for not being too hard on me’.

Finally, he became emotional as he thanked his wife and four children ‘for having put up with me, not just over the past 12 years, but all our married life’.

“On that note, if you’ll excuse the emotion, I’ll rise,” he said.

All present stood to applaud him as he rose from the bench for the final time.

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