Tuesday 13 November 2018

Five now in the running to become new chief justice

Kathy Donaghy

THE Government will name the new chief justice of the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Chief Justice Ronan Keane early next week.

According to legal sources there are five contenders, including two women, to succeed Mr Justice Keane who must step down from the bench because he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 72.

Judge Susan Denham is seen as the most senior member of the judiciary on the Supreme Court after Mr Justice Keane. She was born in Dublin in 1945.

Judge Denham was educated at Alexandra College in Milltown and Trinity College and Kings Inns. She became a senior counsel in 1997 and was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1991, then became the first woman member of the Supreme Court the following year.

President of the High Court, Judge Joseph Finnegan, who is in his early 60's, was appointed High Court President in November 2001.

He was educated at Synge Street CBS in Dublin, St Mary's College in Dundalk, UCD, the Incorporated Law Society and Kings Inns.

He took silk in 1990 and was appointed to the High Court in 1999. He is seen very much as a moderniser of the solicitors' profession.

Also in contention are Supreme Court Judges, Mr Justice John L Murray, Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness and Mr Justice Nial Fennelly.

Judge Murray is a former Attorney General who was appointed Judge of the European Court of Justice in 1991. He became a judge of the Supreme Court in 1999 and was educated at Crescent College in Limerick, Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, UCD and Kings Inns.

Judge Murray was called to the Bar in 1967, took silk in 1981 and became Attorney General in 1982. He served again as Attorney General from 1987 to 1991.

Mr Justice Fennelly was educated at Clongowes Wood, UCD and Kings Inns. He was called to the Bar in 1964 and took silk in 1978.

He was the first Irish Advocate General at the European Court of Justice from 1995 to 2000. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in October, 2000.

Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness was born in November 1934, the daughter of the Reverend Canon Robert Charles Ellis, she grew up in Dunmurray in Belfast and attended Alexandra School in Dublin and also attended Kings Inns. She was called to the Bar in 1977, becoming a senior counsel in 1989. A family law specialist, she was the first woman appointed to the Circuit Court bench in the early 1990's.

Meanwhile, the Government has nominated Judge Aindrias O'Caoimh of the High Court to replace Judge Fidelma Macken as Ireland's member of the Court of Justice of the European Communities. He will leave the court later this year.

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