Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Barrister forced to quit weds male lover

A senior lawyer, who was forced to step aside from his role in the Irish Attorney General's office in the Republic, following the Fr Brendan Smyth extradition scandal, has married his long term male partner.

Retired barrister Matthew Russell (77) entered into a civil partnership with his former law library colleague Fergus Courtney (52), it has emerged.

Mr Russell famously denied to a Dail committee that he was a member of Opus Dei, along with former Attorney General Harry Whelehan.

It emerged in November 1994 that nine warrants for paedophile priest Smyth's arrest had lain unprocessed on the desk of Mr Russell for seven months. The Albert Reynolds-led Fianna Fail-Labour coalition fell soon afterwards.

Mr Russell, known as Official A, was a senior legal assistant in the Attorney General's Office and later resigned with a generous early retirement package.

The marriage of the two retired, high-profile barristers in Scotland — where civil partnership was introduced in December 2005 — has taken the Republic’s legal community by surprise.

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