Latest: Frank Clarke named Chief Justice but Government cannot say how he was picked

Update 9.15pm: The Government has nominated a new Chief Justice - but cannot say how he was picked.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke will take over in the highest role in Ireland's judiciary in the middle of next month when Susan Denham retires.

This evening, however, the Government could not state how Mr Clarke was picked for the role.

Although a special expert group had come up with three names for the role, only one was brought to Cabinet for consideration - and a spokesman could not say how that name was picked from the three.

The spokesman also said the process for picking the judge was modelled on a proposed new permanent system - but that system would see ministers always given three names to consider, rather than one.

Update 6pm: The Chairman of the Council of The Bar of Ireland Paul McGarry SC has extended his congratulations to Frank Clarke on his appointment by Cabinet today as Chief Justice.

"Even back when he was practising as a barrister, Frank Clarke was recognised as one of the brightest legal minds of his generation," McGarry said. "It came as little surprise to those of us who knew and worked with Frank that he went on to be appointed to the High Court in 2004 and later to the Supreme Court in 2012.

"He is a strong advocate and defender of the importance of judicial independence – which is increasingly important in light of recent events internationally, such as those in Poland this week.

"Frank Clarke is very widely respected in the legal profession because of his consistently fair, sound and insightful judgements. As a trained mathematician, he approaches rulings with a wonderfully methodical manner and relishes nothing more than a case with a numerical conundrum. It’s no secret that this has also stood him in good stead in his personal passion – horse racing.

"He doesn’t come from a legal background and was the first person from his family to attend college so he is a fine and welcome example to any aspiring legal student that the sky is the limit when it comes to what can be achieved with the right talent and dedication.

"On a personal level, Frank Clarke is much respected and liked for his outgoing and engaging demeanour and his appointment has been widely welcomed amongst the members of the Law Library."

Earlier: Supreme Court judge Frank Clarke is to be Ireland's new chief justice.

Current chief justice Susan Denham is retiring after six years as the country's top judge.

Justice Clarke, 65, was selected at the Government's last cabinet meeting before the summer recess.

The Dubliner became a Supreme Court judge in 2012.

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 completed his legal studies at King's Inns and was called to the Bar in 1973.

Justice Frank Clarke

A specialist in commercial and public law, including constitutional law, he practised at the Bar from then until his appointment to the High Court in November 2004, having been made senior counsel in 1985.

In the field of academia, 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 .

He was also appointed Adjunct Professor in the Law School in Trinity College in 2012.

Justice Clarke is a strong proponent of judges engaging with the public and has sought to promote a better understanding of the judiciary and the legal system through public lectures and outreach programs.


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