Affable man, fiercely proud of his roots

Sat, Apr 24, 2004, 01:00

Judge Brian Curtin: Ambitious and accomplished as a lawyer, Judge Brian Curtin's career in the legal profession had been on a steady upward curve until his home was raided in May 2002 under Operation Amethyst.

Just eight months earlier he had been appointed a Circuit Court judge after a long and successful career as a barrister on the south-west circuit.

Born to an emigrant family of humble standing, Curtin grew up and was educated in south London. Despite the separation of miles, his parents instilled in the boy a love of his Tralee homeland, and his peers remember him arriving at Trinity College, Dublin in the early 1970s with a strong accent of his home county.

Described as affable and gregarious by former college friends, Judge Curtin signalled his ambition at an early age, joining the university's Fianna Fáil cumann, as well as the students' union and debating societies. He studied at Kings Inns, qualifying as a barrister in 1976. Several high-profile cases followed, including a brief on the Kerry Babies tribunal.

In more recent years he ran for the Progressive Democrats as an unsuccessful local elections candidate in Tralee. He was also a frequent broadcaster on Radio Kerry, offering analysis of media coverage of news events.

His other passion is acting with amateur groups in the Tralee area. Fiercely loyal to his home county, he was found some years ago leaping to the defence of his fellow Kerryman, Mr Justice Hugh O'Flaherty, when the former Supreme Court judge was in the eye of a political storm.

More recently, Curtin (52) has suffered from ill-health. On his first appearance before Tralee District Court on a charge of possession of child pornography in January 2003, his solicitor applied for - and received - a three-month adjournment on the grounds that the judge was unfit to attend.