Tributes paid to Judge Garrett Sheehan on his retirement from Court of Appeal

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan
Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan

Glowing tributes have been paid to Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan on his retirement as a judge of the Court of Appeal.

Tributes were led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, who described Mr Justice Sheehan as an “inspirational figure” during his career as both as an outstanding solicitor specialising in criminal law and a very good judge.

In particular, Mr Justice Ryan highlighted his colleague’s long-time dedication to social justice and human rights.

One of the persons he had acted for was Dean Lyons, who spent nine months in prison for a crime he did not commit. Lyons, who died in 2000, was charged with the murder of two women in Grangegorman in 1997 after he made a confession to Gardai. Mr Lyons was later exonerated of the crimes in a report by a commission of inquiry.

Attorney General Márie Whelan SC and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Clare Loftus, praised Mr Justice Sheehan’s dedication to upholding the constitutional rights of those he represented as a solicitor and individuals who appeared before his court.

Paul McGarry SC, chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland, also touched on Mr Justice Sheehan dedication to social justice especially his interest in mental health. He help established the Prisoners Rights Organisation in the 1970s and had always represented “vulnerable groups at the fringes of society”.

Stuart Gilhooly, president of the Law Society of Ireland, said Mr Justice Sheehan had been “a standard bearer” for the solicitor’s profession, having being one of the first solicitors to be appointed to Ireland’s superior courts.

Speaking before a packed courtroom, the judge said he was “overwhelmed” by all the good wishes and said it had been a privilege to serve as a judge over the last decade.

He thanked his family friends and all those he had worked with. He also took the time to praise the hard work carried out by people within the courts system, An Garda Síochána and the prison service who he said did not get the praise they deserve.

Referring to improvements within the Irish prison system, the judge said he was pleased that more prisoners than ever were now engaging in rehabilitation programmes.

Mr Justice Sheehan was appointed to the High Court in 2007 and to the newly formed Court of Appeal in 2014.

He qualified as a solicitor in 1969 and went to establish the well-known and highly-regarded law firm Sheehan and Partners.

Aodhan O’Faolain, Ireland International News Agency Ltd.