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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 24 May, 2019

Ireland has appointed a new top judge

Mr Justice Frank Clarke will take over from the retiring Chief Justice Susan Denham next month.

File photo of Mr Justice Frank Clarke
File photo of Mr Justice Frank Clarke
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE CABINET HAS chosen Supreme Court judge Frank Clarke as the new Chief Justice.

Mr Justice Clarke will take over from the retiring Chief Justice Susan Denham next month.

A shortlist of three names had been drawn up, but Mr Justice Clarke’s name was the only one that was presented to Cabinet this afternoon.

The government has not yet clarified what the process was in deciding upon his appointment, nor who was involved in making the final decision.

Mr Justice Clarke was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012 and is seen as a social liberal. Born in Walkinstown, Dublin in 1951, he was educated at Drimnagh Castle CBS and University College Dublin where he was awarded a BA in Mathematics and Economics. He went on to complete his legal studies at the King’s Inns before being called to the Bar in 1973.

He became a senior counsel in 1985 and practised until his appointment to the High Court in 2004.

In the academic field, Mr Justice Clarke was a professor at King’s Inns from 1978 to 1985 and has been Judge in Residence at Griffith College Dublin from 2010 to date.

While a judge of the High Court, Mr Justice Clarke served as chair of the Referendum Commission in relation to the Second Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.


Since 2012, he has been a key figure in the reformation of the Supreme Court, chaired a committee on the funding of the courts service and has increased the Supreme Court’s role in the Association of Supreme Administrative Courts of the European Union.

A statement from the Courts Service says that he “believes in public engagement by judges” and has stated before that a more diverse judiciary is desirable but will only be possible if the pool of potential judges is more diverse itself.

The Chief Justice of Ireland is the President of the Supreme Court and titular head of the judiciary, the judicial arm of government.

The holder of the office is also the first member of the Presidential Commission and a member of the Council of State.

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