A cartoon of Catherine McGuinness
14 November 1934 |
Belfast, Northern Ireland
|Education||Kings Inns, Trinity College Dublin, Alexandra College|
|Occupation||President of the Law Reform Commission, Judge of the Supreme Court, High Court, Circuit Court, Senior Counsel, Senator|
|Religion||Church of Ireland|
|Spouse(s)||Proinsias Mac Aonghusa|
|Parents||Canon Robert Ellis, Sylvia Ellis (née Craig)|
Catherine McGuinness (born 14 November 1934) is a retired judge and activist. She is a former barrister, Senator, President of the Law Reform Commission and judge of the Circuit Court, justice of the High Court and Supreme Court of Ireland. In January 2012 she was appointed to the Council of State by President Michael D. Higgins. In May 2013 she was appointed Chair of the National University of Ireland Galway Governing Authority.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, McGuinness was educated in Alexandra College, Trinity College Dublin and the King's Inns. In the 1960s she worked for the Labour Party. She was called to the Irish bar in 1977 at age 42. In 1989 she was called to the Inner Bar.
In 1979 she was elected as an independent candidate to Seanad Éireann at a by-election on 11 December 1979 in the Dublin University constituency following the resignation of Conor Cruise O'Brien, taking her seat in the 14th Seanad. She was re-elected at the 1981 elections to the 15th Seanad, and in 1983 to the 17th Seanad, where she served until 1987. She lost her seat to David Norris. She was appointed to the Council of State on 2 May 1988 by President Patrick Hillery and served until 1990.
She was appointed a judge in the Circuit Court in 1994, the first ever woman. In 1996 she was appointed to the High Court and remained there until her appointment to the Supreme Court in January 2000.
In November 2005 she was appointed Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway. She was also appointed President of the Law Reform Commission in 2005, and held that position until 2011.
In April 2009 she was awarded a "Lord Mayor's Award" by Dublin Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne "for her contribution to the lives of children and families in the city through her pioneering work". In September 2010 she was named as one of the "People of the Year" for "her pioneering, courageous and long-standing service to Irish society". In November 2012 she won the 'Irish Tatler Hall of Fame Award'
In addition to her judicial career, McGuinness has served on the Employment Equality Agency, Kilkenny Incest Investigation, the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, the National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, and the Irish Universities Quality Board. In June 2011 she became patron of the Irish Refugee Council. The Irish Refugee Council purports to stand up for the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees, while ignoring the employment rights of its employees. In November 2011 she was appointed Chairperson of the "Campaign for Children"
In February 2013 McGuinness accepted the Honorary Presidency of Trinity College Dublin's Free Legal Advice Centre
She was married to broadcaster and writer Proinsias Mac Aonghusa and has three children.
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