Former Supreme Court judge dies

Fri, Feb 26, 2010, 00:00

The death has taken place of former Supreme Court judge Henry Barron. He died in St Vincent’s Private Hospital yesterday after a short illness. He was 81.

During his career Mr Justice Barron chaired an inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

In 1997, he was the first judge in the State to grant a divorce after the 1995 referendum.

A High Court judge since 1982, Mr Justice Barron became the first member of the Jewish faith to be appointed to the Supreme Court in 1997. He retired from the Court in May 2000, five months before taking up his appointment as sole member of the Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan attacks. In doing so, he replaced Mr Justice Liam Hamilton after the latter resigned on health grounds less than one year into the brief.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen expressed his condolences to the judge’s children and wider family. He said Mr Justice Barron had a long and distinguished career at both the High and Supreme Courts.

“As the sole member of the Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 and into a number of other bombings and atrocities which occurred in this state during the 1970s, he undertook his task with great sensitivity and thoroughness,” he added.

Labour’s Joe Costello also paid tribute to Mr Justice Barron, whom he said was owed a great debt of gratitude by the Irish public.

As a member of the Oireachtas Committee which subsequently held hearings based on the investigation carried out by Mr Justice Barron, I came to fully appreciate extent the scope of the work he had undertaken and the demands placed on his,” Mr Costello said.

“He showed great commitment in the search for the truth about these events and in his dealing with the families he displayed exceptional understanding and sensitivity. It was as a result of the refusal of the British authorities to cooperate in full with the investigation, rather than any failings on the part of Henry Barron, that those responsible have still not been brought to justice.”

Mr Justice Barron was educated at Castle Park School, Dalkey, Co Dublin; St Columba's College, Rathfarnham; and Trinity College, Dublin, where he won a moderatorship in legal science and from where he graduated with first class honours in 1950. He was called to the Bar in 1951 and took silk in 1970.

He is survived by his children Jane, Harrie, Robert and Anne, two daughters- in-law, a son-in-law, and 10 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Rosalind 13 years ago.

His funeral was held at the Jewish cemetery in Dolphin’s Barn this afternoon.