David Byrne (politician)

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For other people named David Byrne, see David Byrne (disambiguation).

David Byrne (born 6 April 1947) is an Irish senior counsel, former Attorney General of Ireland and former EU Commissioner. In December 2006 Byrne was appointed as Chancellor of Dublin City University.[1]

Byrne was born in Monasterevin, County Kildare. He was educated at Newbridge College, Co. Kildare, University College Dublin and King's Inns, Dublin. He was called to the Bar in 1970 and practised law in the Irish and European Courts. During his student days in Dublin, he founded the Free Legal Advice Centre, a student-run organisation providing legal aid to citizens in association with the legal profession.

He became a Senior Counsel in 1985. He practised in both the Irish courts and the European Court of Justice and also served as a member of the International Court of Commercial Arbitration from 1990–97.

In 1997 he became Attorney General to the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat coalition government. As one of the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998, he drafted and oversaw the major constitutional amendments required by that agreement, which were approved by Referendum in May 1998. Mr Byrne also advised on the constitutional amendments necessary for Ireland's ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty.

He was nominated to the European Commission in September 1999, serving as Ireland's EU Commissioner and had responsibility for Health & Consumer Protection. He continued in that role until replaced as Ireland's Commissioner by Charlie McCreevy in 2004. Currently David Byrne is a patron of Health First Europe.

World Health Organization[edit]

Byrne was mooted as a potential candidate for the position of Director General of the World Health Organization following the death of the incumbent, Dr Lee Jong-wook in 2006. He acted as special envoy of the WHO when he concluded his Brussels assignment.[2]


Political offices
Preceded by
Pádraig Flynn
Irish European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Charlie McCreevy
Legal offices
Preceded by
Dermot Gleeson
Attorney General of Ireland
Succeeded by
Michael McDowell