Paul Gallagher (barrister)
Paul Gallagher (20 March 1955) was Attorney General of Ireland from 2007 until 9 March 2011. He attended the Tralee Christian Brothers national school before going to Castleknock College for his secondary education.
He did two degrees in UCD, a BCL and a B.A. in history and economics, completing his BL in the King's Inns at the same time. He then did an LLM in Cambridge, a few years before his future Government colleague, Brian Lenihan did a law degree there. He returned to Ireland to be called to the Bar in 1979. He was called on the same day as his friend and predecessor as Attorney-General, Rory Brady.
He became a senior counsel in 1991, and a Bencher of the King’s Inns in 2005. He was vice-chairman of the Bar Council from 1995 to 1996, and served as chairman of its European law sub-committee. He is considered close to Rory Brady, and it is thought that Brady would have recommended him for the post to Ahern.
Before his appointment he had a practice that ranged from European to defamation law, including commercial and chancery. Some of the biggest names in Irish business were among his clients. They included the Fitzwilton Group in its challenge to the Mahon tribunal; PJ Carroll in a challenge to tobacco legislation; the VHI in its row with Bupa over risk-equalisation; Meath County Council in the challenge to the M3 motorway route through the Skryne valley; and the State in its opposition to the attempt by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan to have their Canadian marriage recognised.
He was nominated as Attorney-General by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on June 14, 2007, and renominated by Brian Cowen on 6 May 2008. He is said to be in the office from 7am until 7pm, taking a 15-minute lunch-break. Gallagher was among those present in 2008 when the Irish government decided to guarantee the liabilities of the six largest banks in an (ultimately disastrous) effort to bolster confidence in the banking system; he was also among the negotiating team that subsequently sought emergency funding from the EU and IMF. After his period in office, he acted as legal representative for Anglo-Irish bank, the extent of whose (at first not fully apprehended) exposure to toxic debt was one of the main reasons for the failure of the bank guarantee.
In an Irish Times article it was reported that "He is an impressive public speaker, often speaking at length without notes in speeches that can range over Greek philosophy and the place of law in society, before concluding with remarks of pithy relevance to the subject in hand. After he spoke at an international conference of collaborative lawyers a year ago, before the US election, one of the American delegates was heard to sigh: “I wish he was our attorney general.”"
He is married to fellow barrister Blathna Ruane, and they have three sons. His interests include sport, where he is passionate about all forms of football. He plays soccer and attends both GAA and rugby matches.
|Attorney General of Ireland