Planning tribunal judge promoted in new round of appointments

Alan Mahon elevated to Court of Appeal as seven judges named to fill key vacancies

Judge Alan Mahon: chaired planning tribunal from 2003-2012. Photograph: Frank Miller

Judge Alan Mahon: chaired planning tribunal from 2003-2012. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The judge who led the planning tribunal is to be promoted to the Court of Appeal after the Cabinet filled seven key judicial vacancies.

Circuit Court judge Alan Mahon will be joined on the new appeals court by High Court judge Garrett Sheehan, a former solicitor with a background in criminal law.

The Cabinet had already selected seven other High Court judges for promotion to the new court.

At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Ministers also approved the nominations of five lawyers for appointment to the High Court. They are Circuit Court judges Tony Hunt and Margaret Heneghan, solicitors Robert Eager and Donald Binchy, and senior counsel Robert Haughton.

Judge Mahon took over as chairman of the planning tribunal when Mr Justice Feargus Flood stepped down in 2003, and held that position until 2012, when the tribunal published its final report. The son of a judge, he had a general practice as a barrister but concentrated as a senior counsel on personal injuries work, including a number of the Army deafness cases that came to solicitors in his base of Naas, Co Kildare.

Criminal law Mr Justice Sheehan, a High Court judge since 2007, had one of the biggest criminal law defence practices in the country before his appointment to the bench. Following in the footsteps of Mr Justice Michael Peart, he was only the second solicitor to be directly appointed to the High Court.

The incoming president of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Seán Ryan, will be paid a salary of €200,000 while ordinary judges on the court will earn €177,803.

Of the five nominees for the High Court, two are Circuit Court judges, two are solicitors and one is a barrister.

Judge Hunt, a barrister since 1986, was appointed to the Circuit Court in 2007 and has been assigned to the midlands circuit for the past two years.

Judge Heneghan, formerly a barrister and commercial mediator, has been a Circuit Court judge since 2010 and was assigned to the Dublin circuit in 2011. She is a former member of the Legal Aid Board.

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Mr Binchy, who runs a solicitor’s practice in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was president of the Law Society in 2011-2012 and was heavily involved in the debate on then minister for justice Alan Shatter’s controversial Legal Services Regulation Bill. Mr Binchy is a specialist in commercial and planning law.

The final High Court nominee, Mr Haughton, has been a senior counsel since 2004. His civil law practice has included personal injury and medical negligence cases and landlord and tenant law.

Mr Haughton was counsel to the Lourdes Hospital Inquiry and Redress scheme in 2004-2005.

The salary for High Court judges appointed since January 2012 is €172,710.