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Thursday 23 January 2020

Obituary: Paul Anthony McDermott

Liam Collins on the lawyer who was a 'great communicator'

ARTICULATE VIEWS: Paul Anthony McDermottents
ARTICULATE VIEWS: Paul Anthony McDermottents

Paul Anthony McDermott, who died last Tuesday after a short illness at the age of 47, was a leading academic lawyer, barrister and commentator on a wide variety of legal/political issues.

He was born to Irish parents living in London on February 4, 1972. When he was a teenager the family returned to Dublin, to live in Clontarf, and he attended the nearby St Paul's College in Raheny. He was a talented debater.

On leaving school he studied law at University College Dublin. He graduated in first place with a BCL degree in 1994, before going to Cambridge University to further his studies. He was called to the Bar in 1996 and as well as practising as a barrister he continued to lecture in what is now the Sutherland School of Law at UCD for more than two decades up to the time of his death.

He was also the author of a number of texts and books on contract law and prison law, which were published when he was still in his 20s.

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He also collaborated with Judge Peter Charleton on a book on criminal law.

He became a senior counsel in 2015.

He quickly established a substantial practice in the Four Courts. He became a leading advocate for the State in significant constitutional cases. He acted on behalf of many State institutions and was briefed as counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions in the trial of Anglo Irish banker Sean FitzPatrick, which became the longest criminal trial in the history of the State.

He was also a prolific writer and commentator and frequently appeared on news and current affairs programmes on radio and television as a legal expert, where his distinctive voice and accent enhanced the sensible and articulate views he expressed.

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said he was "one of the legal profession's great communicators".

Away from his busy legal practice and academic work, he was a fervent Liverpool FC supporter and a regular at the Aviva stadium to support the home sides in soccer and rugby.

Mr McDermott, who lived in Rathmines, Dublin, is survived by his wife Annick, two young sons Harry and Andrew, his mother Margaret, and his brother James, also a barrister and a UCD law lecturer.

His funeral took place at University Church on St Stephen's Green yesterday morning and was attended by many friends and colleagues from the legal profession.

Sunday Independent

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