Mary Finlay Geoghegan nominated to Supreme Court

Supreme Court has two more vacancies; further appointments not thought imminent

The Government has nominated a number of senior judges to positions, though two vacancies on the Supreme Court remain outstanding.

It has also nominated a member to the European Court of Auditors.

At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, ministers approved the nomination of Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan to the Supreme Court, following a number of recent retirements, including that of the former chief justice, Susan Denham.

Ms Finlay Geoghegan has served as a judge of the Court of Appeal since 2014 and before that was a High Court judge for 12 years.


She is a member of a distinguished legal family – her father Thomas Finlay was a former chief justice and her uncle John Blayney was also a Supreme Court judge. She is married to the retired Supreme Court judge Hugh Geoghegan, whose father was also a Supreme Court judge.

There are a further two vacancies in the State’s highest court, though political sources said that further appointments were not expected to be imminent.

The Government also nominated senior counsel David Barniville to the High Court. Mr Barniville is a former chairman of the Bar Council. The vacancy in the High Court arose from the retirement of Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan on October 2nd, 2017, the Government said.

The Government also agreed in principle to nominate senior counsel Michael MacGrath to the High Court to fill the vacancy that will arise with the retirement of Mr Justice Henry Abbott in December.

The Government also decided to promote Mr Justice Paul Gilligan from the High Court to the Court of Appeal once a vacancy arises in that court after Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan's promotion.

The appointments will formally be made by President Michael D Higgins in due course.

A spokeswoman for the Independent ministers confirmed that the Minister for Transport Shane Ross made no objection to the appointments at Cabinet. Last year Mr Ross blocked judicial appointments until progress was made on new legislation governing the appointment of judges. The new Bill is currently at committee stage, and is not expected to become law until next year.

Meanwhile, the Government also decided to appoint Tony Murphy to the European Court of Auditors. A civil servant, he is currently serving as a director of the court. Mr Murphy will succeed Kevin Cardiff who completes his term of office in February 2018.

Mr Cardiff’s appointment in 2012 was controversial as he had served as the top civil servant in the Department of Finance at the time of the economic collapse.

A Government statement said Mr Murphy was chosen following a competitive interview based process. He will face a hearing before the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament and his nomination will subsequently go before the European Council for final approval.

Mr Murphy would then be expected to begin a six year term as of March 2018, the Government said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times