Thursday 22 March 2018

Longest serving district judge had compassion

Judge Flann Brennan is leaving the Louth District to become a ‘travelling judge’. Tributes were paid to him at Dundalk District Court on Tuesday
Judge Flann Brennan is leaving the Louth District to become a ‘travelling judge’. Tributes were paid to him at Dundalk District Court on Tuesday

Anne Campbell

The occasion of Ireland's longest serving district court judge sitting for the last time in the area he was appointed to 30 years ago was marked with eloquent speeches, warm tributes and a standing ovation earlier today (Tuesday).

Solicitor Roger MacGinley led the tributes to Judge Flann Brennan who will now become a 'travelling judge' and will cover judicial absences all over the country.

Judge Brennan, who was called to the Bar in 1973, was appointed a judge in 1984 and was permanently appointed to this area in 1986, is held in high esteem by not only legal colleagues, but also Court Service staff and the public in this area, the district court was told at a special gathering in Dundalk Courthouse which included representatives from every solicitors' office in Dundalk, local barristers, Gardai, Courts Service staff and former court clerks Gay Berkery and Brendan Cleary. Judge Brennan was appointed to the panel of the Special Criminal Court in 2009.

Mr MacGinley said the area had been very fortunate to have had Judge Brennan here for such a long time and among the many attributes he displayed were his compassion, concern and respect for everyone who came before his court. He also afforded older solicitors a special respect and dignity.

Mr MacGinley also remembered absent colleagues who have passed away, including Dermot 'Doc' Lavery and Conor Breen, as he outlined the many changes in justice administration in the past 30 years.

'It is therefore with great regret that we come to the end of this era. On behalf of all my colleagues, we extend to you and your family our warmest good wishes for a long life, good health and contentment and the hope that you will always look back on your judicial career here with satisfaction, hopefully with affection, and no small pride', Mr MacGinley said.

State solicitor for Louth Fergus Mullen recalled being introduced to the court 25 years ago and said it is Judge Brennan's compassion and concern that endeared him to people. 'In particular, it was how this court dealt with young people in trouble. Because of the efforts you made, a number of young people have been steered away from the unhappy path they were on'.

Barrister Donough McDonough said: 'The message should be sent out today that you are an absolutely superb judge and a true gentleman whose impact on the administration of justice in this area cannot be underestimated'. Superintendent Gerard Curley said that while Judge Brennan was always patient and respectful to Gardai, he rightly insisted on the very highest standards. Noeleen Halpin from the Courts Service also paid tribute to the judge, saying he was always obliging, kind and supportive of staff.

Judge Brennan said he 'very much appreciated' the kind words but he wanted it known he's not retiring, but rather 'going back on the road' and paid tribute to the professionalism and courtesy afforded to him by those who appeared before him and worked with him. He also paid a warm tribute to his 'hugely supportive' family. He said: 'I have been very fortunate all the years I have been here and I appreciate the huge number of you who have come here today'.

The Argus