North’s Attorney General to leave post at end of June

John Larkin QC not to take up position on the bench until tenure as AG concludes

Northern Ireland attorney general John Larkin who during his tenure was embroiled in different degrees of controversy. Photograph: NewRayPics

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin, QC, is to stand down at the end of this month after 10 years in the post, it was announced on Monday.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill in a joint statement thanked Mr Larkin for his service.

“On behalf of the Executive, we would like to thank Mr Larkin for his tireless and invaluable work over the past decade,” they said.

The Executive office now will initiate a selection process to help identify and appoint his successor. It said several options were being considered to fill the post in the meantime.


Mr Larkin was appointed a temporary High Court judge in January but said he would not take up the post until his term as Attorney General came to an end.

Over his tenure Mr Larkin was embroiled in different degrees of controversy over issues such as abortion, homosexuality and his proposal in 2013 that there should be an end to prosecutions for Troubles-related killings.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said that because of "Executive disagreement and feet dragging" Northern Ireland would be without an attorney general for "some months".

“This is in spite of the fact that they have known since the return of devolution in January that John Larkin’s term of office ended this month. Yet they failed to deal with the issue expeditiously,” he said. “Weeks ago I tabled a question to the Executive Office asking for clarity around the issues which this vacancy creates. As is typical of the Executive, it remains unanswered.”

He added: “Mr Larkin has performed the role with great alacrity and skill. And it is my view that it would have been preferable and made more sense to have extended his term to the end of the Assembly mandate.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times