He may have processed more drugs than Pablo Escobar and handled more fish than Captain Ahab, while even dealing with the odd poitín case in his time, but now – after nearly four decades of service to Ireland – State solicitor for west Cork Malachy Boohig is hanging up his hat as a prosecutor.
First appointed to the role in 1986, Mr Boohig was involved in prosecuting some of the country’s biggest drug smuggling cases such as the Gemeos, the Posidonia, Lucky Day, Dances with Waves and Makayabella, in which drugs with a combined street value well over €1 billion were seized.
And over the 36 years of his service, Mr Boohig became a leading authority on the prosecution of Irish and foreign trawlers for breaches of EU fishing regulations, acquiring an expertise that he was happy to share with state solicitors up and down the Irish coastline.
On Thursday, those colleagues, along with fellow solicitors, barristers, senior gardaí, court staff and judges, serving and retired, thronged Court 4 at Anglesea Street Courthouse in Cork to pay their own tributes as Mr Boohig took his final bow before the bench and retired from State work.
Leading the tributes was Chief State Solicitor Helena Kiely who, on behalf of the DPP, Catherine Pierse, thanked Mr Boohig for “the long and distinguished service that he has given to the Office of the DPP and the people of west Cork over the last 36 years.”
Ms Kiely recalled how Mr Boohig was first appointed by then attorney general John Rogers SC and how he has acted on behalf of four different DPPs, Eamon Barnes, James Hamilton, Claire Loftus and Ms Pierse, and how he was known for his willingness to share his expertise with new state solicitors.
“The DPP took over responsibility for the State Solicitors Service in May 2007 and Malachy, with some of his colleagues here, Michael Murray and Barry Galvin, was instrumental in negotiating new contractual arrangements for State solicitors around Ireland, a legacy that continues today.”
Father of the Cork Bar, Donal McCarthy BL said Mr Boohig was noted for his ability to reach agreement in fishery cases on the value of catches and gear with the legal representatives of defendants, which assisted the courts hugely when it came to the complex matter of penalty.
Supt Ger O’Mahony of Clonakilty, speaking on behalf of An Garda Síochána, said Mr Boohig had been involved in some of the most high-profile investigations to emanate from the area.
“Malachy was always available 24/7 to give advice and direction and that advice was always accurate, balanced and based on common sense ... he is someone of great humility who never wanted or sought the limelight, and he has provided a quality service to gardaí in west Cork.”
Judge Helen Boyle said that she had known Mr Boohig from both her time in practice and as a judge and she believed that he was notable for his fairness, his sense of justice and his wisdom in dealing with those appearing before the courts, and that he was always as good as his word in such dealings.
“When Malachy was dealing with young fellows in west Cork who were in trouble, he knew the young fellows that needed a bit of a steer to keep them on the straight and narrow and he also knew the young fellows who were maybe heading for bigger trouble and needed a bit of a fright.”
Mr Boohig’s daughter Sarah said that it had been a tough four years for her father and for them as a family since his wife, Mary died in 2018, but she had no doubt that her late mother would be hugely proud to see and hear so many tributes being paid to her father.