Sunday 22 September 2019

Ireland’s oldest practicing barrister has passed away at 100 years of age

Source: Bar of NI
Source: Bar of NI
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Maurice Gaffney SC has died at the age of 100.

The barrister, who colleagues referred to as the “Father of the Bar,” has passed away following a short battle with illness.

Mr Gaffney only recently turned 100, and was still practicing as a barrister in the areas of probate, conveyancing and employment law.

He was called to the Irish Bar back in 1954 and was promoted to Senior Counsel in 1970.

Born in Co Meath, his father, who was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, soon moved the family to Dublin the year after the Easter Rising.

Some of his most renowned cases include the 1996 case where Fianna Fáil politician Des Hanafin unsuccessfully challenged the result of the divorce referendum.

In the early 1980s, he was involved in an important Supreme Court case, the DPP vs O’Shea, which considered whether a jury’s verdict could be appealed.

Mr Gaffney argued that it could, and the law was later changed in response to the ruling.

Many of his colleagues have taken to social media to pay tribute to the well-liked barrister.

Paul McGarry SC, chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland, had these kind words to say about Maurice Gaffney.

“Maurice was a brilliant constitutional and criminal lawyer who had many successes in important cases in the High and Supreme Courts in his 62 years of practice. Above all, Maurice was a wonderful colleague and a natural gentleman.  His drive for excellence and determination, his can-do spirit and his commitment to the Bar will inspire and stay with us always.  Maurice was universally loved as well as being universally admired. He was unfailingly kind to junior colleagues in the Law Library and was always available with advice and the benefit of his wisdom.

“On behalf of The Bar of Ireland, I wish to express deepest sympathies to his wife Leonie and their family.  We will miss him greatly,” he concluded.

Removal mass will take place on Saturday, November 5 at 4.30pm in St Patrick's Church, Monkstown, Co. Dublin.

His funeral mass will take place at 10am on Monday, November 7.

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