As a solicitor, Lehane takes to defending members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Irish Courts. In 1927 he obtains permission for IRA prisoners to speak privately to their solicitors from the Irish High Court. He is active in other republican and nationalist circles. He is a member of the Moibhí Branch of Conradh na Gaeilge, and by the 1930s appears to become active in the IRA itself. In 1931 he is involved in Saor Éire, an attempt by the Irish left-wing to create a communist political party that would be linked to the IRA.
Lehane is a member of the IRA’s arms committee and in 1935 he is sentenced to 18-months’ imprisonment by the Military Tribunal for his membership of the IRA.
Lehane is an actor and has a keen interest in Irish language theatre. A committed Irish speaker, Lehane is at home in it, whether on radio, stage or in street conversation. He is one of the leading actors of the Irish Language Theatre Company between 1943 and 1958. He is a member of Dublin City Council and of the Citizens for Civil Liberties committee.
Byrne is educated at Newbridge College, County Kildare, University College Dublin (UCD) and King’s Inns, Dublin. He is called to the Bar in 1970 and practises law in the Irish and European Courts. During his student days in Dublin, he founds the Free Legal Advice Centre, a student-run organisation providing legal aid to citizens in association with the legal profession. He campaigns in favour of Irish entry into the European Community (EC) in the 1970s and has been a keen supporter of European integration ever since.
In 1997 Byrne becomes Attorney General of Ireland in the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democratscoalition government. As one of the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, he drafts and oversees the major constitutional amendments required by that agreement, which are approved by Referendum in May 1998. He also advises on the constitutional amendments necessary for Ireland’s ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam. During his tenure, he establishes the first independent Food Safety Agency in Europe responsible to the Minister for Health.
Byrne is mooted as a potential candidate for the position of Director General of the World Health Organization following the death of the incumbent, Dr Lee Jong-wook in 2006. However, he is eventually not included in the list of thirteen candidates to head the agency.
Christian is considered one of the best Irish lawyers of his time, but as a judge, he regularly courts controversy. His bitter and sarcastic temper and open contempt for most of his colleagues leads to frequent clashes both in Court and in the Press. Though he is rebuked for misconduct several times by the House of Commons, no serious thought seems to be given to removing him from office.
Christian’s early years at the Bar are not successful, and he admits to being near to despair at times about his prospects. His practice lays in the Court of Chancery (Ireland). Chancery procedures are extremely complex and he finds them at first almost unintelligible. Gradually he masters the intricacies of Chancery practice and becomes a leader of the Bar, taking silk in 1841. It is said that his expertise in Chancery procedures leaves even the Lord Chancellor himself quite unable to argue with him.
Christian is appointed Law Adviser to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, an influential post which involves assisting the Attorney General and Solicitor General in advising the Crown in 1850, but resigns after only a few months, on the ground that it interferes with his private practice. He is appointed Third Sergeant later the same year but resigns in 1855, allegedly because he is disappointed at not receiving further promotion. Promotion does in time come his way. He is appointed Solicitor General the following year and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1858. He is unusual in having no strong political loyalty. It is said that his political allegiance is known only to himself.
As a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Christian gets on well with his colleagues, and any dissenting judgements he writes are short and courteous. It is after his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal in Chancery in 1867 that his behaviour begins to attract unfavourable comment, as he goes out of his way to court controversy on a wide variety of topics.
Christian develops a deep contempt for the Irish Reports, castigating them in open Court as “nonsense,” “worthless rubbish” and “disjointed twaddle.” All attempts by colleagues to get him to moderate his language fail. He threatens to refuse to let his judgements be reported, and in his last years, his relations with the law reporters are so bad that they simply publish their uncorrected notes of his decisions rather than sending them to the judge for revision.
In 1867 a new office of Vice-Chancellor for Ireland is created. It is filled throughout its existence by one man, Hedges Eyre Chatterton, who retires in 1904. Despite his length of service, he is not considered a judge of the first rank, and Christian evidently combines feelings of professional contempt with a personal dislike for him. Christian usually votes on appeals to overturn his judgments, and frequently adds personal attacks on Chatterton, despite protests from his colleagues. The feud between the two judges reaches the Press in 1870 when The Irish Times, without naming them, quotes one judge’s opinion that another is “lazy, stupid, conceited and dogmatic.” Although Christian denies it, it is universally believed that he is the author of the remarks, which are aimed at Chatterton. Chatterton is fortunate in enjoying the support of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Thomas O’Hagan, 1st Baron O’Hagan, who is also on bad terms with Christian.
Christian had worked well with Abraham Brewster, O’Hagan’s predecessor, whom he respected. For O’Hagan on the other hand, he feels the same dislike and contempt which he felt for Chatterton. Although they served together in the Court of Common Pleas without any obvious conflict, Christian considers O’Hagan’s appointment as Lord Chancellor to be a purely political act, and that he is unfit to be either head of the judiciary or an appeal judge in Chancery. He also complains of what he sees as O’Hagan’s laziness, which puts an extra burden on him. During O’Hagan’s first term as Chancellor, Christian subjects him to constant criticism. Unwisely he does not confine these attacks to the Courtroom but publishes numerous pamphlets, which is widely seen as improper conduct in a judge. When O’Hagan becomes Chancellor for the second time, a friend congratulates him on escaping from “the misnamed Christian” who had retired two years earlier.
It is probably Christian’s feud with O’Hagan which leads to his extraordinary decision to publicly attack the House of Lords for reversing, by a majority including O’Hagan, his judgment in O’Rorke v Bolingbroke. In a letter to The Times in 1877, whose content has been described as “astounding,” he questions the Law Lords knowledge of equity. While he singles out Lord Blackburn for criticism, it is likely that he also intends to harm O’Hagan’s reputation.
A major source of contention between Christian and O’Hagan is the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870, which O’Hagan steers through Parliament. The Act provides for compensation for tenants in the event of eviction. Christian, though he is not a landowner and is not as a rule much interested in politics, objects strongly to the policy of the Act, which he believes to be most unjust to landlords. His attacks from the Bench on the Act lead to serious rebukes both from the House of Commons and from the Press, which comment on the impropriety of a judge attacking an Act of Parliament, which it is his duty to enforce.
O’Hagan’s retirement does nothing to lessen Christian’s ill-temper. Other judges come in for attack, including Lord Chief Justice of IrelandJames Whiteside, whom he accuses of speaking constantly on matters of which he is ignorant. In his later years, he seems to be a lonely and isolated figure. His vigorous opposition to the Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Act 1877 is entirely unsuccessful. A feeling of isolation may partly explain his decision to retire, though certainly his increasing deafness also plays a part.
V.T.H. Delaney praises Christian as a great master of equity, a man of great learning and a judge with a great desire to see justice done, but he does not deny that Christian loved controversy. Even his supporters spoke of “arrows too sharply pointed.” Critics spoke of his “spirit of personal sarcasm, cold, keen and cynical.” No doubt Christian was genuinely concerned to uphold high standards of judicial conduct, but as Daire Hogan points out, his own conduct struck most observers as far more improper than anything he complained of in others.
Wolfe is the eighth of nine sons born to John Wolfe (1700–60) and his wife Mary (d. 1763), the only child and heiress of William Philpot, a successful merchant at Dublin. One of his brothers, Peter, is the High Sheriff of Kildare, and his first cousin Theobald is the father of the poet Charles Wolfe.
After the Irish Rebellion of 1798, Wolfe becomes notable for twice issuing writs of habeas corpus on behalf of Wolfe Tone, then held in military custody, but these are ignored by the army and forestalled by Tone’s suicide in prison. In 1795 he had also warned Tone and some of his associates to leave Ireland to avoid prosecution. Tone’s godfather, Theobald Wolfe of Blackhall (the father of Charles Wolfe), is Wolfe’s first cousin, and Tone may have been Theobald’s natural son. These attempts to help a political opponent are unique at the time.
In 1802 Wolfe presides over the case against Town Major Henry Charles Sirr in which the habitual abuses of power used to suppress rebellion are exposed in court.
In the same year Wolfe orders that the well-known Catholic priest Father William Gahan be imprisoned for contempt of court. In a case over the disputed will of Gahan’s friend John Butler, 12th Baron Dunboyne, the priest refuses to answer certain questions on the ground that to do so would violate the seal of the confessional, despite a ruling that the common law does not recognize the seal of the confessional as a ground for refusing to give evidence. The judge apparently feels some sympathy for Gahan’s predicament, as he is released from prison after only a few days.
During the Irish rebellion of 1803, Wolfe, who had never been forgiven by the United Irishmen for the execution of William Orr, is clearly in great danger. On the night of July 23, 1803, the approach of the Kildare rebels induces him to leave his residence, Newlands House, in the suburbs of Dublin, with his daughter Elizabeth and his nephew, Rev. Richard Wolfe. Believing that he will be safer among the crowd, he orders his driver to proceed by way of Thomas Street in the city centre. However, the street is occupied by Robert Emmet‘s rebels. Unwisely, when challenged, he gives his name and office, and he is rapidly dragged from his carriage and stabbed repeatedly with pikes. His nephew is murdered in a similar fashion, while Elizabeth is allowed to escape to Dublin Castle, where she raises the alarm. When the rebels are suppressed, Wolfe is found to be still alive and is carried to a watch-house, where he dies shortly thereafter. His last words, spoken in reply to a soldier who called for the death of his murderers, are “Murder must be punished; but let no man suffer for my death, but on a fair trial, and by the laws of his country.”
Wolfe is succeeded by his eldest son John Wolfe, 2nd Viscount Kilwarden. Neither John nor his younger brother Arthur, who dies in 1805, have male issue, and on John’s death in 1830 the title becomes extinct.
(Pictured: Portrait of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Arthur Wolfe (later Viscount Kilwarden) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, between 1797 and 1800, Gallery of the Masters)
The ten-judge court is established in 2014. President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Sean Ryan, says the court has achieved major success in dealing with criminal appeals. He says the court is also committed to realising the hopes and expectations of the people when they established the new court and to making whatever changes are necessary.
Justice Ryan says the new court has inherited 660 cases from the Court of Criminal Appeal and has taken on 287 new appeals up to the previous July. Two hundred eighty have been disposed of and all cases ready for hearing are listed for hearing next term.
On the civil side Justice Ryan says the total number of civil appeals disposed of is 468. New civil appeals number 60 a month. He adds that he and his colleagues have achieved a remarkable amount in a short space of time.
President Higgins pays tribute to the work of the court to date. He says it inherited a significant workload from the Supreme Court and the initial priority is to reduce the backlog of criminal cases. Inroads have also been made into reducing the waiting times for dealing with civil appeals.
President Higgins says that the courts play a vital role in the function of the State and there are also plans to faciltate a second court to hear civil appeals which will make further progress in reducing waiting times. He says the effectiveness and efficiency in the court system is also underscored by Ireland’s obligations under a number of international agreements, including Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees citizens a right to a fair and speedy trial.
Chief JusticeSusan Denham says the occasion is a significant one for the people of Ireland who decided there should be a Court of Appeal. She adds that it is an important day for all involved in the law and that the new judges of the court have “done trojan work on this great project for the people of Ireland.”
(From: “President opens new Court of Appeals building,” Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), http://www.rte.ie, November 26, 2015 | Pictured: President Michael D. Higgins (left) pays tribute to the work of the court to date)
On November 24, 1974, British police charge six men in connection with the Birmingham pub bombings three days earlier. Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Robert Hunter, Noel McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker are accused of the murder of the youngest victim of the attacks, Jane Davis, age 17, who is one of 19 people killed when bombs explode on November 21 in the Mulberry Bush at the foot of the Rotunda, and the Tavern in the Town, a basement pub in New Street.
A massive security operation is launched in Birmingham the following day when the six accused men appear in a hearing at the Victoria Law Courts. Assistant Chief Constable Maurice Buck, who is leading the investigation, says the six had been apprehended on the night of the attacks.
Five of the alleged bombers, who are from Northern Ireland but have been resident in England for at least eleven years, are arrested on the Belfast ferry at Heysham. Callaghan is arrested in Birmingham. All of the men had been living in the city, but Buck declines to give their addresses “for security reasons.”
The assistant chief constable tells reporters that the alleged bombers will be charged soon in connection with the deaths of the other 18 victims. “We are satisfied that we have found the men primarily responsible, but our inquiries will continue,” he says.
The so-called Birmingham Six are found guilty in August 1975 of carrying out the bombings and sentenced to life imprisonment. They are released after 16 years in jail when their convictions are quashed by the Court of Appeal in May 1991. One of the six, Paddy Hill states on his release, “The police told us from the start they knew we hadn’t done it. They didn’t care who had done it.” The real bombers have never been prosecuted and no group has ever admitted planting devices.
Three detectives are charged with perjury and conspiracy in connection with the investigation, but their trial is halted in 1993 on the grounds of prejudicial media coverage.
The six men finally agree on undisclosed compensation settlements in June 2002 – more than ten years after they had been freed.
Mathew is a founding member of the Hardwicke Society, a legal debating society, and builds up a substantial practice as a junior barrister, being much in demand as counsel for jury cases in the Guildhall sittings. Despite being highly regarded by his peers, a certain lack of confidence holds him back and even when vacancies arise he does not apply to be made a Queen’s Counsel (QC). In 1873, however, he represents the treasury as a junior counsel in the prosecution of the Tichborne claimant, Arthur Orton, in one of the most celebrated legal cases of the day. He is the only counsel for the treasury who does not get into heated arguments in court with Orton’s leading council, Dr. Edward Vaughan Hyde Kenealy.
Mathew possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of legal procedure and in 1881 is made a bencher at Lincoln’s Inn and awarded an honorary doctorate by TCD. Although still only a junior counsel he is appointed a judge in the Queen’s Bench Division in March 1881 and knighted. After the return to office of the Liberal Party in August 1892 he becomes chairman of the commission established to investigate the state of evicted tenants in Ireland. His appointment is perhaps unfortunate, as he is a home ruler in politics and the home rule MPJohn Dillon is his son-in-law. When the commission begins its hearings on November 7, 1892, he announces that he will not allow witnesses to be cross-examined. This provokes protests from Edward Carson, who had recently been replaced as solicitor general for Ireland. Counsel is ordered to withdraw and eventually two members of the commission resign, while the landlords refuse to cooperate with the proceedings. Despite severe criticism, many of the commission’s recommendations are incorporated in the Wyndham Land Purchase Act of 1903.
Throughout his legal career, Mathew argues for the establishment of a separate commercial court, and eventually succeeds in convincing the other members of the bench and also Lord Russell of Killowen, who is appointed Lord Chief Justice in 1894, that such a court be established. As a result of this, he is appointed as the first judge of the Commercial Court when it is set up in 1895. In 1901 he is made a privy councilor and appointed judge in the Court of Appeal.
On December 6, 1905 Mathew is seized with a paralytic stroke at the Athenaeum Club in London, and his resignation is announced on the following day. On November 9, 1908 he dies at his London home, 46 Queen’s Gate Gardens. His remains are returned to Ireland, where they are interred in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Cork.
Mathew marries Elizabeth Blackmore, eldest daughter of the Rev. Edwin Biron, JP and vicar of Lympne near Hythe, Kent, in December 1861. They have two sons and three daughters. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Mathew, marries John Dillon. A portrait of Sir James Charles Mathew, by Frank Holl, is in the possession of the family. In 1896 a cartoon portrait of him by ‘Spy’ appears in Vanity Fair.
(From: “Mathew, Sir James Charles” by David Murphy, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie | Pictured: Sir James Charles Mathew by Alexander Bassano, half-plate glass negative, 1883, National Portrait Gallery, London)
Gageby is called to the bar in July 1971 and becomes a Senior Counsel in October 1987. She is the fourth woman to enter the Inner Bar. She becomes a senior counsel on the same day as future Supreme Court colleague Mary Laffoy. She works on the Midland circuit until 1979, following which she is based in Dublin. She is involved in a number of leading cases while a junior barrister and a Senior Counsel particularly in the area of judicial review. She becomes a High Court judge in 1991.
Gageby marries paediatrician Dr. Brian Denham in 1992. Also in 1992, at the age of 47, Denham is the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. She is considered for appointment to the role of President of the High Court in 1994, but declines to have her name put forward. She makes two dissents early on in her period on the Court. Throughout her tenure as a judge she is seen by commentators to be a “liberal” judge.
In Kelly v Hennessy in 1996, Denham outlines criteria for a court to consider the evidence of the existence of nervous shock in Ireland. In 2001, she is the sole member of the Supreme Court to dissent in TD v Minister for Education. The court overturns a decision of Peter Kelly in the High Court to direct the government to build secure care units for certain children.
From 1995 to 1998, Denham chairs the Working Group on a Courts Commission, which is responsible for a significant reform of the organisation of the courts since the foundation of the state. It leads to the establishment of the Courts Service. She is on the Interim Board of the Court Service and serves on the Board of the Court Service from its inception, and chairs the board from 2001 to 2004. She chairs the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure which recommends in 2002 the establishment of a commercial court within the High Court.
From 2006, Denham chairs the Working Group on a Court of Appeal. The report of the group is published by the government in August 2009 and recommends the establishment of a general Court of Appeal. This is ultimately established in 2014, after a referendum in 2013.
Denham writes the judgment in McD v. L (2009), upholding the parental rights of a sperm donor.
On July 4, 2011, Denham is nominated by TaoiseachEnda Kenny to become Chief Justice of Ireland, and is appointed as Chief Justice by PresidentMary McAleese on July 25, 2011. She is the first woman appointed to the office and as a member of the Church of Ireland, she is the first non-Catholic to hold the position. She is also the first graduate of Trinity College Dublin to have been appointed as Chief Justices have largely been graduates of University College Dublin. She succeeds John L. Murray.
During Denham’s tenure as Chief Justice, the Supreme Court issues suspended declarations of unconstitutionality for the first time. The possibility to delay the effect of a court declaration that a piece of legislation is contrary to the Constitution is first explored by Denham in A v Governor of Arbour Hill Prison. The court first adopts this approach in N.V.H. v Minister for Justice & Equality in May 2017.
As Chief Justice, Denham oversees changes in the operations of the Supreme Court and the courts generally. She oversees the removal of the requirement for judges to wear wigs while hearing cases. In 2015, the Supreme Court sits outside Dublin for the first time since 1931, sitting in Cork. She corresponds with the Office of Public Works over the lack of heating in the Four Courts, threatening to cancel sittings if the issue is not resolved. She advocates for the inclusion of a new courtroom for the Supreme Court in plans to develop a new family court complex on Hammond Lane.
In her capacity as Chief Justice, Denham oversees the administration of the Presidential Declaration of Office at the inauguration of President Michael D. Higgins in Dublin Castle in November 2011.
Denham retires from the position in July 2017, and is succeeded by Judge Frank Clarke. She is the third-longest serving Supreme Court judge ever at the time of her retirement. In her remarks on her retirement, she draws attention to the government’s failure to institute a judicial council, having first attempted to persuade the government to establish one in 1997.
In 2019, Denham is made an honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin, where she was a Pro-Chancellor from 1996-2010.
The Courts Service announces on August 24, 2020 that the Supreme Court has appointed Denham to review the attendance of Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe at a dinner organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society. She is appointed on a non-statutory basis as the relevant section in the Judicial Council Act 2019 on judicial conduct has not yet been commenced.
Patrick James Connolly, Irish barrister who serves as Attorney General of Ireland from March 1982 to August 1982, resigns on August 17, 1982, after Malcolm McArthur, wanted for, and later convicted of murder is found to be his house guest. The fallout from the incident leads to one of the most famous acronyms in Irish politics.
Connolly resigns on August 17, 1982 after Malcolm MacArthur, who had been a house-guest of Connolly’s, is arrested for murder. MacArthur, the domestic partner of Connolly’s friend Brenda Little, had committed a horrific double murder in the midst of a botched carjacking and robbery in 1982. Though Connolly is not implicated in the murder and is completely unaware of McArthur’s activities, he is forced to resign at midnight the night of MacArthur’s arrest and never again serves in government.
The much reviled, and correspondingly much loved Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, describes the incident as “a bizarre happening, an unprecedented situation, a grotesque situation, an almost unbelievable mischance.” Conor Cruise O’Brien, one of Haughey’s political opponents who despises the most corrupt Taoiseach in Irish history coins the phrase GUBU – Grotesque, Unprecedented, Bizarre, Unbelievable – to describe not just what happened but Haughey’s overall response.
Connolly returns to practice at the Irish bar and to work as a senior counsel in Dublin. A life-long bachelor, he dies at the age of 88 on January 7, 2016. Though he never marries, he has a very close relationship with his extended family, including his nephew and two nieces who speak at his funeral Mass. He is buried in Deans Grange Cemetery.
Before the Act, a number of “Penal laws” had been enacted in Britain and Ireland, which varied between the jurisdictions from time to time but effectively excluded those known to be Roman Catholics from public life.
By this Act, an oath is imposed, which besides a declaration of loyalty to the reigning sovereign, contains an abjuration of the Pretender, and of certain doctrines attributed to Roman Catholics, such as that excommunicated princes may lawfully be murdered, that no faith should be kept with heretics, and that the Pope has temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction in Great Britain.
Those taking this oath are exempted from some of the provisions of the Popery Act 1698. Although it does not grant freedom of worship, it allows Catholics to join the army and purchase land if they take an oath of allegiance. The section as to taking and prosecuting priests is repealed, as well as the penalty of perpetual imprisonment for keeping a school. Roman Catholics are also enabled to inherit and purchase land, nor is an heir who conformed to the Established church any longer empowered to enter and enjoy the estate of his “papist” kinsman.