Northern Ireland barristers take silk for first time in four years

Northern Ireland barristers take silk for first time in four years

Pictured (left–right): Steven McQuitty KC, Geraldine McCullough KC, justice minister Naomi Long and Bar of NI chair Moira Smyth KC.

The Bar of Northern Ireland has congratulated 34 barristers on taking silk, including 12 women — a three-fold increase in the number of women in the last call four years ago.

Until Friday, nobody had been called to the senior bar since February 2020 because of the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive. The last call before that was in 2014.

The 12 new women KCs are Grainne Murphy, Jill Lindsay, Laura Ievers, Louise Murphy, Sinead O’Flaherty, Geraldine McCullough, Melanie Rice, Laura McMahon, Rachel Best, Denise Kiley, Fiona Fee and Rosemary Walsh.

The other new KCs are Gary Potter, Barry Gibson, Neale Matthews, John O’Hare, Michael Egan, Conor Campbell, David Russell, Simon Reid, Robin Steer, Ian Turkington, Kevin Magill, Aidan Sands, Eoghan Devlin, Richard McConkey, Wayne Atchison, Philip Henry, David Heraghty, Joseph O’Keeffe, Michael Chambers, Steven McQuitty, Peter Hopkins and Stephen Toal.

Moira Smyth KC, chair of the Bar of Northern Ireland, said: “The new king’s counsel will serve the public, without fear and favour and draw on their considerable experience of the law, advocacy and litigation to represent the best interests of their clients and the administration of justice.

“They will apply their skills and expertise in the most serious or complex of cases, ensuring access to justice for all and contributing to an efficient and effective justice system.

“In a fast-paced, modern legal world, the king’s counsel title is a strong indication of excellence and offers a reliable mark of quality.”

She continued: “I am particularly pleased to see 12 new female KCs take silk today. The Bar Council has made a concerted effort to promote diversity at the Bar and support our female practitioners as they serve the public interest in the most challenging of legal matters whilst also navigating the challenges of self-employment.

“The call to the senior bar is momentous occasion for all 34 new KCs and their families. I offer my congratulations to them all and wish them well in future practice. I would also like to pay tribute to the selection panel for their diligence and objectivity throughout the rigorous assessment process.”

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