Larkin profile: regularly in spotlight and never far from controversy

Larkin viewed as QC who ultimately will sit on the High Court bench

John Larkin, Northern Ireland's single-minded Attorney General, is not a lawyer to avoid controversy whether that be stepping into rows over gay adoption or abortion or taking on a former Northern secretary or a Paisley.

But there was surprise yesterday when he waded into the hugely sensitive and difficult territory of the past.

He is viewed as a QC who ultimately will sit on the High Court bench – but could this sort of a row jeopardise that possibility?

Since his appointment more than three years ago he has been regularly in the spotlight.


He took on former Northern secretary Peter Hain whom he sought to prosecute for "scandalising a judge" in his (Hain's) autobiography. The charges were dropped when Hain clarified his remarks.

Before his appointment, he battled in court with the DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr for refusing to identify a whistleblower.

On abortion, he offered his services to the Assembly's justice committee when it questioned representatives of the Marie Stopes organisation after it opened a clinic in central Belfast.

He also intervened in a gay adoption case brought by two Austrian lesbians in the European Court of Human Rights. He submitted that countries such as Austria and Northern Ireland should have the right to opt out of same-sex adoption legislation.

He is from Glenavy, Co Antrim, a Catholic who was educated at the Christian Brothers grammar school in nationalist west Belfast.

He was Reid professor of law at Trinity College Dublin from 1989-1992. He studied at Queen's University Belfast, was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1986, and the Irish Bar in 1995.

His legal expertise includes civil liberties, administrative law, defamation, European law, housing, inquests and private international law.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times