Who is the judge chairing the Stardust inquiry?

Patrick McCartan cut his teeth as a criminal defence solicitor but has also been a politician

Just weeks away from his 64th birthday, Mr Justice Patrick McCartan takes on the Stardust inquiry some six months into what was assumed to be his retirement. He stood down from the Circuit Court last August after 19 years on the bench.

He made his name in the cut and thrust of the legal sphere as a criminal defence solicitor but has also been a politician, at both local and national level.

From Co Wexford, he was a founding partner of McCartan & Hogan Solicitors.

On the political spectrum he leans very much on the left and was a member of Official Sinn Féin in the 1970s and 1980s, followed briefly by Sinn Féin Workers Party, which in turn became the Workers Party. And when the Workers Party split at the beginning of the 1990s, McCartan became a key figure in Democratic Left along with Proinsias De Rossa.


He put himself forward for election in no fewer than six general elections and was elected twice; in 1987 and 1989. He always ran in the Dublin North East constituency.

His first election was 1981 when he ran as an Official Sinn Féin candidate before contesting the next election in February, 1982, as a Sinn Féin Workers Party candidate. And when there was another election just nine months later he ran as a Workers Party Candidate.

However, it was not until his fourth general election that he proved successful; winning a Dáil seat for the Workers Party in 1987. He had won a seat on Dublin City Council two years earlier.

He retained his Dáil seat in the 1989 election. But in 1992 when he ran as a Democratic Left candidate he lost out and that was to prove his last.

He would be appointed to the bench five years later by the rainbow coalition government which included Democratic Left, and with whom he had continued involvement in Dublin City Council.

He surprised many by stepping down last year from the bench, with news of his departure only emerging weeks after he had stepped down.

As a judge he mainly ran trials at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

In his new role heading the Stardust inquiry he will work on what has been an emotional and controversial episode and where there will intense public interest. However, having presided over the trials of some form Anglo Irish Bank officials he is no stranger to operating in the glare of the media spotlight.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times