Donal O'Donnell

Donal Gerard O'Donnell (born 25 October 1957[1]) is an Irish judge who is the Chief Justice of Ireland since October 2021. He has served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland since January 2010. He practised as a barrister between 1982 and 2010, specialising in commercial law and public law.

Donal O'Donnell
13th Chief Justice of Ireland
Assumed office
11 October 2021
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMichael D. Higgins
Preceded byFrank Clarke
Judge of the Supreme Court
Assumed office
20 January 2010
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Personal details
Born
Donal Gerard O'Donnell

(1957-10-25) 25 October 1957 (age 64)[1]
Belfast, Northern Ireland
NationalityIrish
Spouse(s)Mary Rose Binchy (m. 1992)
Children4
EducationSt. Mary's School
Alma mater

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Belfast, in 1957.[2] He was educated at St. Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Belfast, University College Dublin, King's Inns and the University of Virginia.[3] While attending University College Dublin, he won the 1978 Irish Times Debate with Conor Gearty for the UCD Law Society.[4] He graduated from Virginia in 1983, where he wrote a research paper comparing equality under the US and Irish constitutions, supervised by A.E. Dick Howard.[5] Janet Napolitano was also among the class of 1983.[6]

His brother Turlough O'Donnell SC is former Chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland.[7] He comes from a legal family, his father, The Rt. Hon Turlough O'Donnell PC, was a member of the High Court of Northern Ireland and of the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland between 1971 and 1990.[8]

Legal careerEdit

He was called to the Bar of Ireland in 1982. He was then later called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1989.[9] He became a senior counsel in October 1995.[10] He has practised in all courts in Ireland, Northern Ireland, European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).[3] He was known for his speciality in constitutional law, frequently appearing on behalf of the State.[11][2] He successfully represented the applicants from the Garda Síochána after the death of John Carthy in a constitutional challenge which limited the powers of investigation of the Oireachtas,[12] which led to the unsuccessful Thirtieth Amendment of the Constitution.[13] He acted for the State in Zappone v. Revenue Commissioners, Roche v Roche and Miss D.[9][2] In Michael Ring's challenge to a ban on a dual mandate he acted for the State and represented Micheál Martin in an action taken by Kathy Sinnott challenging the results of the 2002 general election in Cork South-Central.[14][15] He was counsel for Michael Lowry at the Moriarty Tribunal.[9] In 2002, he represented eighteen religious groups in a negotiation with the Minister for Education Michael Woods.[16] He acted for Ireland in the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 in A, B and C v Ireland.[17]

O'Donnell's practice also extended to commercial law. He and Paul Gallagher acted for a group of tobacco companies in 2004 challenging restrictions of tobacco advertising and he appeared for the estate of James Joyce in a copyright action against Cork University Press in 2000.[18][19] He represented the Beef Industry Development Society Ltd in a 2008 case in the ECJ which clarified the meaning of an agreement under Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.[20] In 2007 he and Paul Anthony McDermott acted for Elin Nordegren in libel proceedings against The Dubliner.[21] He also appeared in cases involving insolvency law, employment law, company law and contract law.[22][23][24][25]

O'Donnell was a member of the Law Reform Commission from 2005 to 2012. He became a Bencher of the King's Inns in 2009.[3]

Judicial careerEdit

O'Donnell was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010. He was appointed directly from practice to Ireland's highest court, a rare direct appointment.[26] His appointment followed Nicholas Kearns becoming President of the High Court.[27]

There have been several distinctive and innovative features of his Supreme Court judgments, including writing joint opinions and opting to delay a declaration of unconstitutionality, in lieu of no declaration at all, to enable the government to take action before a judgment takes effect.[11] Ruadhán Mac Cormaic of The Irish Times says O'Donnell has a reputation for elegant writing and having a "socially liberal" approach.[11]

Chief JusticeEdit

He was reported to have been one of three judges shortlisted to be the 12th Chief Justice of Ireland in July 2017; however, Frank Clarke was chosen.[28] On 28 May 2021, he was nominated by the government to become the 13th Chief Justice of Ireland following Clarke's retirement in October 2021.[29][30][31][32] He was appointed on 11 October 2021, by President Michael D. Higgins at a ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin.[33][34]

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Mary Rose Binchy, an artist,[11] with whom he has four children.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "O'Donnell, Donal Gerard, (born 25 Oct. 1957), a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland, since 2010". Who's Who. 2011. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U254010.
  2. ^ a b c Coulter, Carol (22 December 2009). "Donal O'Donnell nominated to Supreme Court". The Irish Times. p. 4.
  3. ^ a b c "2018 Supreme Court Annual Report" (PDF). Supreme Court. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Where are they now?". The Irish Times. 31 January 1992. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  5. ^ "O'Donnell LL.M. '83 Nominated to Supreme Court of Ireland". University of Virginia School of Law. 17 January 2010. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  6. ^ "1980s Class Notes". University of Virginia School of Law. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  7. ^ "O'Donnell takes Supreme Court seat". Irish Times. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  8. ^ "NI barrister joins Supreme Court". The Belfast Telegraph. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d "UCD Connections 2010" (PDF). UCD. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Five are called to Inner Bar". The Irish Times. 3 October 1995. p. 4.
  11. ^ a b c d Cormaic, Ruadhán Mac. "Donal O'Donnell: Intellectual heavyweight and innovator". The Irish Times (26 July 2019). Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  12. ^ Maguire v Ardagh, 1 I.R. 385 (Supreme Court of Ireland 2002).
  13. ^ "Government publishes inquiries Bill". The Irish Times. 12 September 2011. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Dual mandate abolition 'allows for new blood'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Judgment on costs in Sinnott case reserved". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Indemnity deal agreed with State was signed by 18 religious groups". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  17. ^ Cahill, Ann (10 December 2009). "State defends restrictive laws to European Court". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Firms want no detailed evidence in challenge to tobacco ads ban". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Ulysses 2: judgment day". Sunday Business Post. 7 October 2000.
  20. ^ Competition Authority v Beef Industry Development Society Ltd, Case C‑209/07 (ECJ 20 November 2008).
  21. ^ "Apology and payout for false article on Elin Woods". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Butler may be placed in examinership". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Museum director's legal challenge to IMMA decision adjourned". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Interim report on National Irish Bank investigation presented to High Court". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Dunne and CBRE settle court case". The Irish Times. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Constitutional barrister appointed to Supreme Court". Breakingnews.ie. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  27. ^ Carolan, Mary. "Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell formally appointed to Supreme Court". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2 November 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  28. ^ Cormaic, Ruadhán Mac; Minihan, Mary. "Cabinet to pick chief justice from three-judge shortlist". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Appointment to the Office of the Chief Justice". www.gov.ie. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  30. ^ O'Donnell, Orla (2021-05-28). "Judge Donal O'Donnell to be nominated as Chief Justice". RTÉ News. Archived from the original on 2021-06-01. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  31. ^ Leahy, Pat (28 May 2021). "Supreme Court judge Donal O'Donnell to be nominated as next Chief Justice". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  32. ^ Phelan, Shane (28 May 2021). "Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell to become next Chief Justice". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Diary - President Appoints Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell As New Chief Justice". president.ie. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  34. ^ "An Príomh-Bhreithamh a Cheapadh" (PDF). Iris Oifigiúil (in Irish). 2021 (84): 1195. 19 October 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of Ireland
2021–present
Incumbent