Tributes paid to Mr Justice McGovern on his final day on the bench

The president of the Court of Appeal, the Attorney General and leading members of the legal profession have paid tribute to Mr Justice Brian McGovern on his retirement from the bench.

The judge has stepped down after serving on the Court of Appeal and the High Court for over 14 years, including a significant term in charge of the busy Commercial Court division of the High Court, where he dealt with many high-profile cases.

During his career both as a barrister, starting in 1972, and as a judge of the superior courts, he acted in a number of tribunals, including the Whiddy Island Tribunal, the Ryan Commission and the Lindsay Tribunal.

Not long after he was appointed to the High Court in 2006, he presided over the action known as the embryo case where Mary Roche, against the wishes of her estranged husband Thomas Roche, sought to have three frozen embryos released to her for implantation.

Leading the tributes, Mr Justice George Birmingham, president of the Court of Appeal, said Mr Justice McGovern had a distinguished career as a barrister in civil and criminal law and had made significant contributions in the areas of maritime law, arbitration and medical negligence law.

Mr Justice Birmingham added that his colleague had been “a stalwart” in the Commercial Court. Mr Justice McGovern’s experience and acumen, he added, will be of huge benefit when he takes up his new role alongside Ms Justice Mary C. Irvine and the retired Mr Justice Michael Peart on the CervicalCheck Tribunal.

On behalf of the people of Ireland and the Government, Attorney General Séamus Woulfe SC thanked Mr Justice McGovern for his many years of service on the bench.

The judge, he said, had acted in and presided over many important and high-profile cases include ones featuring golfer Rory McIlroy, politician Mick Wallace and the late broadcaster Gay Byrne.

Tributes were also paid by Michele O’Boyle, president of the Law Society of Ireland; Mícheál P O’Higgins SC, chair of the Bar Council; Angela Denning, CEO of the Courts Service; Noreen Landers from the Office of the DPP; and Geraldine Manners, the chief registrar of the Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice McGovern, thanking all those in attendance, said he wanted to follow the example of Homer Simpson on the occasion when the cartoon character found himself in a posh restaurant and “leave without making a fuss”.

He paid tribute to his family, colleagues on the bench and his many friends in the legal profession.

He also thanked his usher John Martin, and the registrar in charge of the Commercial Court, Niamh Dermody, for their assistance and support during his tenure on the bench.

Tags: Court report

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