Tributes to ‘standard bearer’ Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan

Court of Appeal judge praised for interest in social issues and mental health on retirement

Warm tributes have been paid to legal ‘standard bearer’ Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on his retirement as a judge of the Court of Appeal.

Warm tributes have been paid to legal ‘standard bearer’ Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on his retirement as a judge of the Court of Appeal.

 

Warm tributes have been paid to legal “standard bearer” Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on his retirement as a judge of the Court of Appeal.

The president of the court, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, described Mr Justice Sheehan as an “inspirational figure” during his career, both as an “outstanding” solicitor specialising in criminal law and a “very good” judge.

Mr Justice Ryan highlighted his colleague’s longtime dedication to social justice issues and human rights.

He noted that Dean Lyons, a man who spent nine months in prison for a crime he did not commit, was among those who Mr Justice Sheehan represented.

Mr Lyons, who died in 2000, was charged with the murder of two women in Grangegorman in 1997 after he made a confession to gardaí but was later exonerated of the crimes in a report by a commission of inquiry.

Attorney General Márie Whelan SC and the Director of Public Prosecutions Clare Loftus praised Mr Justice Sheehan’s dedication to upholding the constitutional rights of those he represented as a solicitor and of those who appeared before his court.

Mental health

Bar Council chairman Paul McGarry SC noted Mr Justice Sheehan’s interest in mental health. Mr Justice Sheehan helped establish the Prisoners Rights Organisation in the 1970s and always represented “vulnerable groups at the fringes of society”, he added.

Law Society president Stuart Gilhooly said Mr Justice Sheehan had been “a standard bearer” for the solicitor’s profession and was among the first solicitors to be appointed to Ireland’s superior courts.

In his address to a packed courtroom, Mr Justice Sheehan said he was “overwhelmed” by the good wishes and said it had been a privilege to serve as a judge over the last decade. He thanked his family, friends and those he had worked with.

Paying tribute to the hard work carried out by High Court chief registrar Kevin O’Neill and others within the courts service, the Garda Siochana and prison service, the judge said they did not get the praise they deserve.

Referring to improvements within the Irish penal system, the judge said he was pleased more prisoners than ever were engaging in rehabilitation programmes.

Mr Justice Sheehan was appointed to the High Court in 2007 and to the newly formed Court of Appeal in 2014. He qualified as a solicitor in 1969 and went to establish the well known firm, Sheehan and Partners.