Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to High Court judge

A minute's silence has been held in the High Court in Dublin in memory of one of the country's most respected judges.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, who died suddenly yesterday at the age of 62.

The president of the High Court, Nicholas Kearns, said everyone's thoughts and prayers are with his colleague's wife Geraldine and family.

"I would just like to say we have all learnt with deep shock and sorrow of the death of Mr Justice Kevin Feeney," he told the packed courtroom ahead of the court list hearings.

"He was a judge held in the highest esteem by the entire judiciary and legal profession and his many friends.

"Over the coming days many tributes, well deserved, will be made to him."

Defendant Eric Eoin Marques, 28, who is accused by the FBI of being the "largest facilitator of child porn on the planet", was among those in the packed courtroom when everyone stood in silence as a mark of respect to the judge. Authorities in the Unites States are seeking Marques' extradition.

Attorney general Maire Whelan said Judge Feeney has served with great distinction in the High Court since he was appointed in 2006

Born in Dublin, Judge Feeney was the youngest of the four sons of consultant obstetrician Professor John Feeney and his wife Margaret.

He was educated in Rosalyn Park and Haddington Road National schools, before attending Gonzaga College, UCD and Kings Inns, where he qualified as a barrister in 1973.

Throughout his career he volunteered and served on many bodies and committees and practised and ruled in several high profile cases, including Criminal Assets Bureau cases.

More recently Judge Feeney was chairman of the Referendum Commission for the European Fiscal Treaty.

Ms Whelan said as a judge, he combined enormous intellectual ability with a compassion and courtesy which left an abiding impression on litigant and lawyer alike.

"His deft handling of the Criminal Assets Bureau cases was illustrative of his absolute professionalism and his mastery of a developing area of the law," she said.

"As counsel, he acted in a series of landmark commercial actions, and he was unquestionably the leading defamation lawyer of his generation, making the sometimes recondite nature of libel law accessible for a jury.

"He brought the skills he acquired from his practice in the law library to the Bench, where his judgments were informed by his deep knowledge of the law, his robust common sense and his zeal for fairness."

Ms Whelan said the judge leaves a legal legacy of incalculable value in his body of reported case law, which will continue for many years to be the bedrock of jurisprudence in matters which concern the recovery of the proceeds of crime.

"He was a man of great ability and integrity, and his sudden and unexpected death leaves a great void in the Irish legal community," she added.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he had been a judge of exceptional ability who graced the High Court bench with courtesy and good humour.

"Given his dedication to public service, his death at such a young age is a loss for the entire country," said the minister.

"He will be sadly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him."

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