Fearless solicitor behind report on Greencore affair

Maurice Curran: November 5th, 1938 - April 20th, 2015

Maurice Curran came to public prominence in 1991 when appointed by then minister for industry and commerce Desmond O'Malley as government inspector to investigate what became known as the "Greencore affair".

With typical and exemplary efficiency, he produced an interim report within seven weeks, leading to the controversial portion of proceeds of the sale of Sugar Distributors Ltd being frozen by ministerial order. He delivered his final report a further seven weeks later. Subsequent investigations, some commentators have suggested, might have benefited from a similar sense of urgency.

Before 1991, Maurice Curran had established himself as one of Ireland's most formidable and fearless solicitors. He shared first place in his BCL degree at University College Dublin, won two Law Society of Ireland scholarships and qualified as a solicitor in 1961.

In 1963 he won a scholarship to Harvard University. But, given a choice between a master's at Harvard and a partnership offer in Dublin, he took up the latter, becoming a partner in the firm that became known as Walker, Mason & Curran at 25. Managing partner Six years later, when Michael Hayes – who died in March 2015 – joined the firm, it renamed itself Mason Hayes & Curran. As managing partner for almost 30 years, Maurice Curran saw it grow to become one of Ireland's leading law firms. It now has 400 personnel, in offices in Dublin, London and New York.

Maurice Curran was born to parents Dermott and Maureen Curran in 1938 and grew up in Sandymount, Dublin. At the time Dermott worked as a law clerk and Maureen had her own Radio Éireann programme, Ask Mrs Curran.

He was educated at St Michael’s primary school and then Blackrock College. He was academic, but also had a keen interest in sport, in his case not the rugby normally associated with those schools, but cricket. He was an opening batsman with a punishing stroke, a position he kept when subsequently playing with Pembroke. He also played table tennis at the highest level. Law Society From early in his career, he took a keen interest in Law Society matters, becoming chair of the Society of Young Solicitors in 1970. He sat on the Law Society Council for 20 years, overseeing various reforms. One that he led on was the abolition of the “solicitor’s premium”, where in the past those hoping to train as solicitors would pay their master solicitor for the apprenticeship.

He was also part of the group that drove the modernisation of legal training, emphasising the practical and removing the cap on annual numbers. He became president of the Law Society in 1988 at the age of 50.

His lifelong excellence and interest in education was recognised in 1993 when he was appointed one of the first visiting fellows in commercial law at UCD. He held board positions with Anglo Irish Bank Corp plc (in better times, from 1992 to 1999), Thorsman and McInerney Construction. He served as chairman of the Solicitors Mutual Defence Fund, became a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and carried out a number of international arbitrations on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Curran was renowned for his kindness and hospitality. He loved to travel, initially with the International Bar Association and later with his family, and enjoyed sport and good conversation. He would seek to impose order on his family, remarking that people paid a lot of money for his advice so his family should listen carefully as they were getting it for nothing.

In intermittent poor health from 2001, he went into a decline after a heart bypass, dying peacefully with his family present in April. He is survived by his daughters, Róisín, Sara, Catherine and Rebecca, their mother, Noëlle Anne, and his sister Pauline.

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