Leading solicitor to advise bishop

 

ONE of the country's best known solicitors, Mr Noel Smyth, has joined the team of advisers to the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Brendan Comiskey. Mr Smyth (43), is regarded as having a fine legal and business mind and an astute eye for public relations.

But despite his successful and high profile career, he does his best to avoid media attention. He is known to be a dedicated family man and an almost daily Massgoer.

His best known client to date is the businessman, Mr Ben Dunne. In 1992, Mr Dunne became the centre of controversy following an association with a call girl and his arrest for cocaine possession during a trip to Florida. Mr Smyth, among others, advised Mr Dunne to express his contrition and be available to the media.

It was good advice. Mr Dunne bared his soul, sought to endear himself to the Irish people and retained his commercial credibility.

Born in Galway, Mr Smyth is the eldest son of a family of four. His father was a golf professional who moved from club to club. The family lived at various times in Adare, Tralee, Bray and Dublin, where his father was a professional at Elm Park club.

Mr Smyth studied law at UCD, where he kept a low profile and avoided involvement in the college societies. He qualified as a solicitor in 1973 at the age of 20 and worked in the practice of Vivian Matthews in Dundrum, Dublin, before moving briefly to New York. On his return, he worked with the practice of James O'Brien in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Mr Smyth's first partnership was in Dublin with Mr Michael Fitzsimons, a brother of the Fianna Fail Leinster MEP Jim Fitzsimons. His focus was commercial and he gained a reputation as a financial wizard.

After seven years in Fitzsimons Smyth & Co, Mr Smyth left the partnership in 1981 to establish his own practice. Noel Smyth and Partners rapidly established a reputation as a specialist firm concentrating on commercial transactions, with a number of builders and property developers as clients.

Mr Smyth has worked with, among others, Mr Dermot Desmond, the founder of National City Brokers; Mr Don Tidey, chairman and chief executive of Quinnsworth; financiers Mr Paschal Taggart and Mr Finbarr Holland; and property developers Mr Phil Monaghan and Mr Pat Doherty.

Last month, Mr Smyth's stake in a property company, Dunloe, fell from 69 per cent to 42 per cent as a result of the recent rights issue. However, he remains the largest single shareholder. His overall wealth has been estimated to be in excess of £10 million.

Mr Smyth is married with four children and lives in a large house on substantial grounds near Leopardstown racecourse in south Dublin. The family spends the summer in a mobile home at Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow, and Mr Smyth commutes daily to Dublin.