Thursday 19 April 2018

Funeral tributes for judge Henry Barron


A large crowd gathered at the Jewish Cemetery at Aughavannagh Road, Dubin, on Friday for the funeral of former Supreme Court Judge Henry Barron who died early last week.

Dignitaries from the Jewish and the legal world, headed by Chief Justice John Murray and Supreme Court Judges Susan Denham and Catherine McGuinness; Michael McDowell and Ben Briscoe attended the service for one of the most independent and respected judges of his time.

A moving and eloquent eulogy was given by his close friend of many years, the former minister for labour Mervyn Taylor. He remembered his days in Trinity College when the youthful Henry Barron -- who not only had a "brilliant analytical mind" but was also a great sportsman -- played cricket, hockey, tennis and golf with style and ease.

Many others will remember him for his comprehensive report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in which 33 people were killed and over 300 injured. He was appointed to this position when the original chairman of the inquiry, Mr Justice Liam Hamilton, took ill, but he insisted on starting his own inquiry from scratch.

Mr Justice Barron seriously criticised the investigation that followed the bombings and he also criticised the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government of the day for their apparent lack of concern over their cause. He famously said in his report that they "showed little interest in the bombings" and "when information was given to them suggesting the British authorities had intelligence naming the bombers, this was not followed up".

The report caused a furore and posed many questions that the government could not ignore. As a result of pressure from all sides, they were forced to commission a further inquiry, headed by senior counsel Patrick McEntee

Mr Justice Barron was born in Dublin and educated at Castle Park School, Dalkey, Co Dublin, and St Columba's College, Rathfarnham. He went on to study law at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated with first-class honours in 1950.

As a junior counsel, he earned a reputation for meticulous attention to detail and was regarded as an expert in contract law. He took silk in 1970 and became one of the busiest senior counsel in the country.

He was appointed to the High Court in 1982, and to the Supreme Court in 1997. He will go down in legal history as being the first judge to grant a divorce in Ireland, in 1997, just two years after a second constitutional referendum made it legal.

A leading figure in the Jewish community, his elevation to the Supreme Court in 1997 was a first for someone of his faith in Ireland's history. He was also very active in the creation of the Irish Jewish Museum, which opened in 1985 in Walworth Road.

He was regarded as one of the finest bridge players in the country, a game he played throughout his life. His wife Rosalind was also a highly respected player internationally and represented Ireland in the European Championships.

He was devastated when Rosalind died in 1997, as they had been a very close and happy couple. They were both prominent members of the Regent Bridge Club and the Civil Service Bridge Club.

Mr Justice Barron was diagnosed with cancer some time ago but he was determined to continue his life as normally as possible and was playing bridge with his good friend Tomas Roche at the Regent quite recently. He was a devoted family man and was immensely proud of their every move in life. He is survived by his children Jane, Harrie, Robert and Anne and 10 grandchildren.

Sunday Independent

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