Mr Justice Paul Carney was in Cork for the sessions of the Central Criminal Court for his last time as the presiding judge. At the age of 71, he is due to retire in April. Depending on when judges were appointed to the High Court, they must retire at the age of 70 or 72.
Donal McCarthy, barrister and father of the Cork Bar and Munster Bar, led tributes to Mr Justice Carney, saying that the bar congratulated him for bringing the Central Criminal Court to the people, not least in the sessions of the court in Cork in recent years. Mr McCarthy wished Mr Justice Carney a happy and occupied retirement.
On behalf of the senior bar, senior counsel Brendan Nix said: “This is very much the end of an era. I think I speak for everyone when I say you have always listened to counsel and trusted counsel. If there were difficulties, you did everything possible to accommodate them.”
Mr Nix recalled a conversation with the President of the High Court who said, some time after the appointment of Mr Justice Carney to the Central Criminal Court, that if he had a judge like that in every division of the High Court his job would be so much easier.
Mr Nix also referred to the innovative approach of Mr Justice Carney in bringing the Central Criminal Court to the regions and embracing new technology, for instance during his address to a jury by video link from his hospital bed.
Solicitor Frank Buttimer, on behalf of the Southern Law Association, said it was very sad to see Mr Justice Carney retiring.
Mr Buttimer said that one often heard it said at retirements that no one was irreplaceable but he said Mr Justice Carney, in the manner in which he had brought justice to the people and delivered justice, was the exception to prove the rule.
Once Mr Buttimer concluded the tributes, Mr Justice Carney said from the bench: “There is nothing voluntary about my going.”