Supreme Court judge Donal O’Donnell to be nominated as next Chief Justice

Current Chief Justice Frank Clarke to retire in the autumn

The Government is expected to announce the nomination of Supreme Court judge Donal O’Donnell to be the next Chief Justice, the State’s highest judicial post.

Following consultations between the Attorney General Paul Gallagher and the three party leaders, Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys brought Mr Justice O’Donnell’s name to Friday’s Cabinet meeting, where Ministers approved the nomination.

He will succeed the current Chief Justice Frank Clarke in the autumn when Mr Justice Clarke reaches retirement age.

Said by many lawyers to be the dominant intellectual force on the current Supreme Court, Mr Justice O’Donnell was thought to be the favourite to succeed to the post.


He has been a Supreme Court judge since 2010, having been one the few practising barristers to be directly appointed from the bar to the State’s highest court.

Though born and raised in Belfast - his father was a judge of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland - Mr Justice O’Donnell attended university at UCD and has always practised in Dublin. He is 63.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times