Court of Appeal makes history as first in State to have majority of female judges

Women now comprise 42% of Irish judiciary

Ms Justice Nuala Butler's move to the Court of Appeal means it now has nine female and eight male judges. Photograph: Ronan Quinlan/Collins

The Court of Appeal has made history as the first court in the Republic to have a majority of female judges.

Women now comprise 42 per cent of the judiciary here, compared to 1996 when they made up 13 per cent. There are 172 judges in the State, of whom 72 are female.

The Government’s decision this week to nominate Ms Justice Nuala Butler, a judge of the High Court, to the Court of Appeal means that court now has nine female and eight male judges, making it the first court to have more female than male judges.

Ms Justice Butler has been nominated to fill the vacancy created on the Court of Appeal by the appointment of Mr Justice David Barniville as president of the High Court.


Areas of expertise

Ms Justice Butler was appointed a judge of the High Court in October 2020. She was called to the Bar in 1986 and was made a senior counsel in 2003. Her areas of expertise included judicial review, planning and environmental law and she regularly represented An Bord Pleanála and the State.

The number of female judges in the Republic has more than trebled over the past 25 years.

Of the Supreme Court’s nine judges, three are female. In the Court of Appeal, which was established in 2014, there are 17 judges of whom nine — 53% — are female.

At High Court level, there are 17 women among that court’s 45 judges, 38 per cent of the total.

In the Circuit Court, there are 16 female and 22 male judges, meaning women represent 42 per cent of that court’s judges. At District Court level, 27 — 44 per cent — of the 62 judges are women.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times