Mr Justice Nial Fennelly oversees commission of inquiry into Garda recordings

The judge has dissented in a number of high-profile Supreme Court cases

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly: has served as a Supreme Court judge since 2000.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mr Justice Nial Fennelly: has served as a Supreme Court judge since 2000. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 01:00


Mr Justice Nial Fennelly (71), who has been appointed to oversee the commission of inquiry into Garda telephone recordings has served as a judge of the Supreme Court since October 2000.

He was educated at Clongowes Wood College and took a degree in economics at University College Dublin before studying at King’s Inns.

He practised at the Irish Bar from 1966 to 1995 and worked principally in commercial and constitutional cases, with a particular interest in European Community law.

Legal Aid board

He was chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland in 1990 and 1991 and also chaired the Legal Aid board, from which he resigned in 1989 in protest at the way the State-funded civil legal service was being starved of resources.

He was the first Irish lawyer to be appointed to the position of advocate general at the European Court of Justice, where he served from 1995 until he was called back to Dublin to join the Supreme Court.

As advocate general, his opinions dealt with issues of free movement, tax and competition.

He is a member of the Association of Judges in Ireland and of the Board of Trustees of the Academy of European Law at Trier, Germany, as well as being president of the Irish Society for European Law.

He was chairman of the Irish Centre for European Law and and was president of the Fédération Internationale pour le Droit Européen in 2004.

High-profile cases

He has dissented in a number of high-profile Supreme Court cases, including in 2003, along with Catherine McGuinness, when the court, by a five-to-two majority, said the non-Irish parents of Irish-born children were not entitled to live in this country by virtue of having an Irish-born child.

In 2009, he dissented in a case taken by the Equality Authority against Portmarnock Golf Club along with Mrs Justice Susan Denham.

By a three to two majority, the court sided with Portmarnock.