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Sunday 21 January 2018

Tributes paid after death of Arms Trial barrister

Gordon Deegan and Dearbhail McDonald

WARM tributes were paid last night following the death of senior counsel Seamus McKenna, who led the State's prosecution of the late Fianna Fail leader Charlie Haughey during the historic 1970s Arms Trial.

Mr McKenna (81) had been a barrister for 59 years and was still practising just hours before his death on Wednesday night.

A minute's silence was observed at the High Court yesterday following the sudden death of one of the longest-serving members of the Bar.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said members of the judiciary and branches of the legal profession were very saddened to hear of Mr McKenna's sudden death.

Yesterday in the High Court, sitting in Ennis, Mr Justice Henry Abbott described Mr McKenna as "a role model and a hero". His colleague Mr Justice George Birmingham also said that Mr McKenna "was a truly mighty barrister and a giant of his profession".


Also at the High Court sitting, barrister Gerry Tynan, a friend and colleague of Mr McKenna, described the former chairman of the Bar Council, the ruling body for barristers, as "one of the outstanding barristers of our time".

"Seamus McKenna was a joy and a lesson to behold when he was on his feet at full tilt. He was always destined for great things in his profession and he achieved them," said Mr Tynan.

Mr McKenna, from Monaghan, became a barrister in 1951 before becoming a senior counsel in 1968.

In 1970, he was the lead prosecutor in the Arms Trial and later described the period as "those turbulent times".

He was one of a small cohort of elderly barristers; the oldest barrister still in practice is 93.

Mr McKenna is survived by his wife Anne, daughters Caitriona and Laura and son Ciaran. He was predeceased by another daughter, Susan.

Irish Independent

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