Judges welcome Finlay Geoghegan’s ‘long overdue’ appointment to Supreme Court

Mr Justice Peart wished her well on leaving the ‘sweatshop’ of the Court of Appeal for the ‘calmer air’ of the Supreme Court

 Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Two senior judges have welcomed the “long overdue” appointment of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan to the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan praised the “immense” contribution of their Court of Appeal colleague both to the appeal court and during her years as a High Court judge.

Both judges, who made their comments today as they were about to embark with Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan on an appeal hearing, said she would be much missed by the judges of the Court of Appeal and wished her well in what Mr Justice Hogan described as the “Olympian air” of the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Peart said the appointment was “long overdue” and the only surprise was it had not happened quite a few years ago.

The Court of Appeal is a collegiate court whose members have a close working relationship and Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan had done much of the “heavy lifting” that contributed to the extraordinary achievement of that court since its establishment, he said.

Anything his colleague might lack in physical stature was made up for by the “immensity of her intellect”, he said.

The Court of Appeal did not know what it would do without her, but its loss is the Supreme Court’s gain and he wished her well on leaving the “sweatshop” of the Court of Appeal for the “calmer air” of the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Hogan said Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan’s performance in the High Court and Court of Appeal was “nothing short of extraordinary” and her work was characterised by a “deep rigour”.

Former attorney general Paul Gallagher SC, with his colleague Michael Collins SC, who were in court for the appeal hearing, also welcomed the appointment. Mr Gallagher said it was an “immensely deserved” honour and both he and Mr Collins said that view was shared by many at the Bar.

Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan said her colleagues had “truly ambushed” her and she had no idea they had intended to make any comment.

She said she was very honoured to be given the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court but her “great sadness” was she would have to leave the Court of Appeal and especially her colleagues with whom she had worked so closely.

The Court of Appeal has achieved a lot since its establishment, it had proceeded at “breakneck speed” from the outset led by the appeal court president, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, assisted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, now president of the High Court, she said.

She hoped the Court of Appeal will get additional judges to ensure it is able to continue its work, she added. She was sorry she would not be among her Court of Appeal colleagues for that. “The less I say about Olympian air, the better”, she concluded with a smile.