IT HAS hosted many of Ireland's "morality plays" over the past 40 years. It has given judgements which at least influenced, if not actually drove, some major social changes since the 1970s.
In Strasbourg yesterday, President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to the European Convention on Human Rights. He said Ireland's regard for it had "been fundamental in consolidating the rule of law and supporting positive social change".
President Higgins was speaking before a visit to the European Court of Human Rights which over the decades deliberated on Irish topics touching on divorce, abortion information, de-criminalising homosexuality, child sex abuse in schools, and more recently influenced an Irish court decision on recognition of gender change.
The deputy head of the court, Belfast-born lawyer Michael O'Boyle was on hand to greet the President. Mr O'Boyle joined the court in July 1977 and witnessed most of the landmark Irish cases. He leaves next Friday "to pursue other opportunities".