I. Education and academic and other qualifications
- University College Cork, Ireland 1974 – 1977 Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL)
- University College Cork, Ireland 1977 – 1978 Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
- Kings Inns, Dublin 1979 – 1980 Degree of Barrister at Law (BL)
- London School of Economics 1981 – 1982 Masters of Law (LLM)
I was called to the Bar of Ireland 1980. I was also called Bar of Northern Ireland and the Bar of England and Wales.
Since May 2014 I am the Irish member of the Venice Commission on Democracy through Law (Council of Europe).
II. Career History
Full-time Commissioner, Law Reform Commission of Ireland. March 2022 to present.
In March 2022 I was appointed by government as a member of the five-member statutory Law Reform Commission which prepares formal reports and recommendations for future reform of laws in Ireland. Our recent work has been on the compulsory purchase of land, the liability of unincorporated associations, the introduction of third-party litigation funding, and special provisions for the protection of vulnerable adults.
This role also includes the functions of Chief Executive Officer of the Commission.
Member of the Venice Commission. May 2014 to present.
Since 2014 I am the member from Ireland of the Venice commission for Democracy Through Law. In this independent capacity I work as part of a team in the preparation of advices for state authorities on draft law, constitutional change and compliance with the Rule of Law. I am the Chair of the Commission’s sub-Commission on the Judiciary, a member of its Enlarged Bureau and also of the Council for Democratic Elections.
As a Member of the Council of Europe Venice Commission I have worked on legal opinions for upwards of twelve states (including Ukraine in relation to an election law issue).
Deputy Director General. Attorney General’s Office Feb 2015 to July 2019.
Deputy to Head of the Office providing legal services to the Government of Ireland. I advised on major constitutional, election related and justice issues. I was on the Office’s Audit Committee and took the lead on Risk Management and strategic developments such as the changing Statements of Strategy.
Legal Advisor to the Attorney General of Ireland: 1991 - 2000, 2006 -2009, and 2013 - 2015.
I was an Advisory Counsel, Grade I, in the Office of the Attorney General, leading a staff of seven lawyers in providing advice on legal developments, litigation and legislation in the areas of justice and criminal law and policing, and electoral law including compliance with constitutional, European Union, ECHR and international human rights norms.
I was a member of various government committees to advise on changes to the law. The most significant in terms of hard law was a committee to advise on the extension of police powers. The second such committee was one under Judge Hederman to advise on reform of security and anti-terrorism laws in light of the Belfast Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. On the Committee on the Establishment of a Courts Service I helped frame the draft legislation to separate the operation of the judicial power.
October 2011 to Sept 2012
Head of the Legal Office, EULEX - Kosovo
During this period I was the Head of the Legal Office (and latterly Human Rights and Legal Office) at EULEX-Kosovo, the European Union’s largest rule-of-law mission with an executive mandate containing judges, prosecutors and police officers (c 2500 mission members). I was seconded by the Irish government to this role, leading a team of twenty three lawyers in a range of legal, European Union, human rights and constitutional issues about the mission. This involved high level interaction with the Kosovo government and European Union officials.
From 2010 to 2013 I worked on contracts with the EU Commission as follows:
Legal analyst on core teams with the election observation or expert missions for Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Zambia and Kenya.
Bureau Legal Officer of the Criminal Assets Bureau, Dublin
From 2002 to 2006 I was appointed by the Minister for Justice as the Bureau Legal Officer of the Criminal Assets Bureau, a statutory agency then made up of 50 police officers, ten revenue officials and five social welfare officers.
This role included the supervision of legal processes in the investigation of corruption in the political and commercial spheres in Ireland through financial links, and running complex litigation which interacted with criminal proceeding, and the negotiation of complex settlements between the Bureau and third parties in Ireland and overseas. The most difficult questions related to the mechanisms for sharing intelligence and evidence among states for the purposes of investigations, criminal cases and civil applications. I was the legal face of the Bureau for presentations and conferences.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
From 2000 to 2002 I was seconded by Ireland to act as Deputy Head of Legal Affairs and Head of Public Law at the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo. This international body was set up under the Dayton Accords to supervise the implementation of the peace process and the building of democracy in compliance with European norms. This included advising on the process to set up the new court to take on war crimes trials at domestic level and the process to restructure the Bosnia and Herzegovina judiciary and the early stages of writing a criminal code for Bosnia and Herzegovina. I advised on the propriety of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Electoral Law and was sent to defend it before the Venice Commission.
While in Bosnia and Herzegovina I acted as a legal adviser to the international process to achieve agreement between the former Yugoslav Republics on the distribution of state assets. This resulted in high level talks inter-governmental in which I participated and at which agreement on state succession was reached.
1982 to 1991
Practice at the Bar of Ireland
From 1982 to 1991 I was a Barrister at Law working in the Courts of Ireland. I had a general civil practice which included areas such as; family law, employment law, Law of Tort, planning, probate and administration of estates, judicial review, commercial law, landlord and tenant law and property law.
III. Other experience
I have represented Ireland on two occasions before the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva for Ireland’s periodic review of its obligations under the Convention. In July 2014 I attended with Ireland’s Minister for Justice and addressed the Committee on issues concerning incorporation of human rights norms and separately on criminal justice issues.
I have given evidence at Parliamentary Committees and Tribunals of Inquiry.
I have also conducted and participated in:
- Occasional lectures and seminars in Ireland, Brussels, Spain and Italy on electoral law matters
- Presentations on legal reform in post conflict states to the European Security and Defence College in Austria
- Lectures on Confiscation of criminal assets in Ireland, Belgium
- Reports and advices for Serbia and Bulgaria on confiscation of criminal assets
- Seminars on legal ethics to post graduate students at University College Dublin, Ireland,
- Training given on anti money-laundering developments in Eastern Europe EU accession states,
- Training on legal drafting in Kosovo,
- Presentation to the International Bar Association in Singapore on the extent to which theocracy is compatible with democracy.
- Article in Irish Judicial Studies Institute Journal (2007 No.2) on Proceedings taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau.