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Adrian Hardiman (21 May 1951 – 7 March 2016) was a judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland from 7 February 2000 until his death on 7 March 2016.[1] In a tribute following his death, President Michael D. Higgins said Mr. Justice Hardiman "was one of the great legal minds of his generation", who was "always committed to the ideals of public service".[2] He was described as a "colossus of the legal world" by Chief Justice Susan Denham.[3]

Adrian Hardiman
Adrian Hardiman - 20090224.jpg
Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland
In office
7 February 2000 – 7 March 2016
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Personal details
Born21 May 1951
Dublin, Ireland
Died7 March 2016 (aged 64)
Dublin, Ireland
Spouse(s)Yvonne Murphy
Alma materBelvedere College, UCD, King's Inns
OccupationJudge, Barrister

One commentator wrote that "Hardiman’s greatest contribution ...was the steadfast defence of civil liberties and individual rights" and that "He was a champion of defendants’ rights and a bulwark against any attempt by An Garda Síochána to abuse its powers".[4]

Hardiman received the rare honour of being appointed directly from the Bar to the Republic of Ireland's highest court.[4] Prior to his elevation to the Supreme Court, he had a successful practice as a barrister, focusing on criminal law and defamation,[4] after being called to the Irish bar in 1974.[5]


Birth and educationEdit

Adrian Hardiman was born on 21 May 1951 in Coolock, Dublin.[1] His father was a teacher and President of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI).[1]

He was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin, and University College, Dublin (UCD, where he studied history), and the King's Inns.[1] He was president of the Student Representative Council at UCD[4] and Auditor of the Literary and Historical Society (UCD)[4] and won The Irish Times National Debating Championship in 1973.[6]


Hardiman was married to Judge Yvonne Murphy,[1] from County Donegal,[7] a judge of the Circuit Court between 1998 and 2012, who conducted important inquiries relating to sex abuse including the Murphy Report and the Cloyne Report.[8] She has been chair of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes.[8]

Mr Justice Hardiman and Judge Murphy had three sons,[7] one of whom, Eoin, is a barrister[7] and has been a member of the Mountjoy Prison Visiting Committee[9][10]; Hugh, who was a personal assistant to Michael McDowell, when McDowell was Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform;[7] and Daniel, a Doctor.[11][7]

Political careerEdit

After being involved with Fine Gael,[4] he joined Fianna Fáil in college[7] and stood (unsuccessfully) for the party in the local elections in Dún Laoghaire in 1985.[4][1] Along with other Fianna Fáil dissidents, he became a founder member of the Progressive Democrats,[4] but left the party when appointed to the Supreme Court.[7] He remained very friendly with the former party leader and ex-Tánaiste, Michael McDowell,[7] who was a friend at college,[4] a fellow founding member of the party,[1] and best man at his wedding.[7]

Legal philosophyEdit

Politically, Hardiman supported the liberal side in Ireland's debates over abortion, being active in the "anti-amendment" campaign during the 1982 Abortion Referendum and later represented the Well Woman Centre in the early 1990s.[12] After his death, he was described by Joan Burton as a liberal on social issues.[13] But he could be an outspoken opponent of Political Correctness, such as when he rejected the Equality Authority's attempt to force Portmarnock Golf Club to accept women as full members.[4] He also believed that certain decisions, such as those involving public spending, were better left to elected politicians rather than unelected judges, regardless of how unpopular that might sometimes be in the media (which he tended to hold in low esteem) and among what he described as the "chattering classes".[4]

One commentator wrote that "Hardiman’s greatest contribution ...was the steadfast defence of civil liberties and individual rights" and that "He was a champion of defendants’ rights and a bulwark against any attempt by an Garda Síochána to abuse its powers".[4] His concern for individual rights was not confined to Ireland: in February 2016, he criticized what he described as the radical undermining of the presumption of innocence, especially in sex cases, by the methods used in the UK's Operation Yewtree inquiry into historical sex allegations against celebrities, and he also criticized "experienced lawyer" and US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton for allegedly declaring in January that "every accuser was to be believed, only to amend her view when asked if it applied to women who had made allegations against her husband", former US President Bill Clinton.[14]

Key judgmentsEdit

Hardiman wrote a number of important judgments since joining the Court. He also presided (as does each Supreme Court judge on a rotating basis) over the Court of Criminal Appeal. The following is a selection of judgments delivered by Mr Justice Hardiman, in reverse chronological order:

  • O'Callaghan -v- Judge Mahon:[15] dissent; holding that Tribunal of Inquiry should be prevented from further inquiring into the applicants; cites R -v- Lynch (1829) – the Doneraile Conspiracy case – in which by skilful cross-examination Daniel O'Connell secured acquittals on capital charges; concluded that the contrary approach "would represent a very marked coarsening of our standards of procedural fairness."
  • Shortt -v- The Commissioner of An Garda Síochána:[16] one of two judgments, in which the Court more than doubled (€1.9m to €4.7m) the damages granted to a man wrongfully imprisoned for over two years after two members of the Garda Síochána concocted evidence against him
  • P.H. -v- D.P.P.[17][18]
  • D.P.P. -v- Anthony Barnes:[19] discusses and restates the criminal law of self-defence in the case of burglary
  • McK. -v- Homan[20][21]
  • N -v- Health Service Executive:[22][23] one of five judgments given by the Court; this case concerned the circumstances in which a parent may exercise the right provided for in Irish law to rescind initial consent to adoption.
  • A. -v- The Governor of Arbour Hill Prison:[24] one of five judgments; the case concerned a "collateral" challenge by a prisoner to the lawfulness of his detention following the judgment in C.C. -v- Ireland (see immediately below).
  • C.C. -v- Ireland:[25] striking down as unconstitutional part of the law on statutory rape, due to the absence in any circumstances of a defence of honest mistake as to age.
  • O'Callaghan -v- The Hon. Mr. Justice Mahon[26]
  • Gough -v- Neary[27]
  • Lobe -v- Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform:[28] one of seven judgments in a case concerning whether the State could deport the parents of Irish citizens who were still minors; the Court by a majority (5–2) dismissed the appeal and allowed the deportation of the family.
  • Dunne -v- D.P.P.:[29] one of a series of cases, beginning with Braddish v D.P.P., in which the Court considered the contours of the Garda Síochána's duty to seek out and preserve evidence relevant to a criminal trial.
  • Ardagh -v-. Maguire:[30] this case concerned the procedures to be applied by a parliamentary inquiry into an incident in which members of the Garda Síochána shot dead a civilian, John Carthy.


Hardiman died on 7 March 2016 at the age of 64.[1] The eulogy at his funeral, which took place in the Church of the Holy Name in Ranelagh, was delivered by Michael McDowell.[31] He said: "The fates have robbed us of someone who simultaneously excelled in his many different personae as husband, father, grandfather, an original thinker, an advocate and, for so many who are here, simply that of a loyal friend."

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley and Chief Justice Ms Justice Susan Denham all paid their respects. Ex-TDs Lucinda Creighton, Mary Harney, Des O'Malley and Pat Rabbitte were also among those who signed a book of condolence, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny represented by his aide-de-camp.

Upon his death, his colleague Justices of the Supreme Court released an extensive statement acknowledging Hardiman's contributions to the court system and to the country.[32]


  • Hardiman, Adrian (2017). Joyce in Court. London: Head of Zeus. ISBN 9781786691583.
  • Hardiman, Adrian (2003). Gandhi in His Time and Ours: The Global Legacy of His Ideas. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0231131148.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman dies". Irish Times. 7 March 2016.
  2. ^ "President leads tributes to Mr Justice Hardiman". Irish Times. 7 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Ireland has lost a colossus of the legal world following the death of Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman". Irish Independent. 7 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Adrian Hardiman: A unique courtroom voice falls silent". Irish Times. 7 March 2016.
  5. ^ Louise Kelly (7 March 2016). "Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman passes away". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Where are they now?". The Irish Times. 31 January 1992. p. 9. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kieron Wood (29 November 2009). "Murphy's Law (Profile of Judge Yvonne Murphy)". Sunday Business Post. Retrieved 8 March 2016.(article copy is held at
  8. ^ a b "Who we are? Judge Yvonne Murphy". Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation. 7 March 2016.
  9. ^ Mountjoy Prison Visiting Committee (2005). "Mountjoy Prison Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Department of Justice (Ireland). Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  10. ^ Mountjoy Prison Visiting Committee (2006). "Mountjoy Prison Annual Report 2006" (PDF). Department of Justice (Ireland). Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "The judges matter more than the ministers". Irish Independent. 30 January 2000.
  13. ^ Tributes paid to Supreme Court judge Adrian Hardiman after sudden death
  14. ^ "Hardiman questions methods of UK sex-claim inquiries". Irish Times. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  15. ^ O'Callaghan v Judge Mahon [2007] IESC S17 (30 March 2007)
  16. ^ Shortt v The Commissioner of An Garda Síochána [2007] IESC S9 (21 March 2007)
  17. ^ P.H. v D.P.P. [2007] IESC S3 (29 January 2007), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  18. ^ "P.H. -v- D.P.P." Supreme Court of Ireland.
  19. ^ "D.P.P. v Anthony Barnes [2006] IE CCA 165". Supreme Court of Ireland. 21 December 2006.
  20. ^ McK. v Homan [2006] IESC S63 (28 November 2006), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  21. ^ "McK. v Homan [2006] IESC 63". Supreme Court of Ireland.
  22. ^ N. & another -v- Health Service Executive & others [2006] IESC S60 (13 November 2006)
  23. ^ "N v Health Service Executive [2006] IESC 60". Supreme Court of Ireland. 13 November 2006.
  24. ^ A. v The Governor of Arbour Hill Prison [2006] IESC S45 (10 July 2006), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  25. ^ C.C. v Ireland [2006] IESC S33 (23 May 2006), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  26. ^ O'Callaghan v The Hon. Mr. Justice Mahon [2005] IESC 9 (9 March 2005), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  27. ^ Gough v Neary [2003] IESC 39 (3 July 2003), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  28. ^ Lobe v. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform [2003] IESC 3 (23 January 2003), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  29. ^ Dunne v. D.P.P. [2002] IESC 27 (25 April 2002)
  30. ^ Ardagh v. Maguire [2002] IESC 21 (11 April 2002), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  31. ^ "Remarkable mind of Adrian Hardiman recalled at funeral". Irish Times. 10 March 2016.
  32. ^ "Adrian Hardiman: Ebullient colleague who held strong opinions, but no grudges". 8 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2018.

External linksEdit