President leads tributes to Mr Justice Hardiman

Supreme Court judge described as ‘one of the great legal minds of his generation’

Adrian Hardiman when he was sworn in as a new Supreme Court judge in 2000. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan/Collins

Adrian Hardiman when he was sworn in as a new Supreme Court judge in 2000. Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan/Collins


Tributes have been paid to Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman who died suddenly.

President Michael D Higgins said Mr Justice Hardiman “was one of the great legal minds of his generation,” who was “always committed to the ideals of public service”.

Mr Higgins said: “Above all else, Adrian Hardiman was a proud and patriotic Irishman, who made it his life’s work to defend the Irish Constitution, but who also made a unique contribution to Irish history, Irish literature and the Irish language. He was committed to the public world and the world of ideas and always gave generously of his time to debate and discuss matters of public importance. His loss to Ireland and to law will be enormous.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was “shocked and saddened” to hear news of the death.

“As well as his enormous contribution to our judicial system, he had a love of our language, a huge interest in history and politics and was also a published writer and broadcaster,” Mr Kenny said.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said: “Mr Justice Hardiman was a fearless defender of the constitution and a man of extraordinary intellectual ability who made an enormous contribution during his career. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Justice Hardiman was “one of the outstanding lawyers of his generation.

“I always found Adrian to be extremely kind, generous and good natured. He had a keen interest in politics and public life and ran for Fianna Fáil in the local elections in Dún Laoghaire in 1985,” Mr Martin said.

Director General of the Law Society of Ireland, Ken Murphy said that the Irish people had lost a fierce protector of their rights. He described Mr Justice Hardiman as “one of the most brilliant barristers of his generation, he was a powerful, punchy and highly persuasive advocate.

Fearless, fluent and articulate, he could think on his feet to handle with ease whatever was thrown at him.”

Chairman of The Council of the Bar of Ireland, David Barniville SC, said Mr Justice Hardiman was “a colossus at the Bar and on the Supreme Court”.

He said one of his most fond memories of Mr Justice Hardiman was his role in presiding over a mock trial held with students from St Audoen’s National School in Dublin last December. “He was unfailingly generous with his time and knowledge and took enormous pride in mentoring students and new barristers,” Mr Barniville said.

Head of School and Established Professor of Law at NUI Galway, Donncha O’Connell, said that while he didn’t always agree with Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman’s rulings, his death was a loss to the justice community.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr O’Connell said Mr Justice Hardiman was a “brilliant advocate”.

“A judge like Hardiman was really really good to have there even if it served a counterpoint to the points that you that agree with, and he was never less than brilliant and scintillating in his judgments and he was quite polymath as well in his approach to his role as a judge,” Mr O Connell said.

“He would quote liberally and promiscuously from all sorts of sources and many sources that had nothing to do with evidence at all, and that was born out as well in his extra judicial work when he spoke at events and various things. He was absolutely fantastic.”

Chief Justice Susan Denham described Mr Justice Hardiman as “a man who had made great and courageous efforts on behalf of those who sought justice.

“He neither favoured nor feared any interest - and went about his work with great integrity, grit and dedication,” she said.