Mr Justice Alan Mahon is to become Ombudsman of the Defence Forces, a move his Court of Appeal colleagues said was a great loss as they described how they will miss his “wise and sound judgment” on the bench.
During tributes on 29 June, Mr Justice Mahon was thanked by Attorney General Seamus Woulfe for his work on the eponymous Mahon Tribunal into planning irregularities, which he described as “a truly remarkable work of public service".
The Attorney General said that his office is now looking at establishing an office of planning regulator, as part of planning legislation, an indicator of the role in history of the Mahon Tribunal.
Speaking on behalf of the Law Society, President Michael Quinlan said that Mr Justice Mahon had taken control of a difficult situation in Dublin Castle, when he took over the work of the retiring Mr Justice Feargus Flood, in 2002.
Mr Justice George Birmingham said it had been a privilege to sit alongside Mr Justice Mahon on the Court of Appeal, praising his capacity for hard work and his versatility, along with unfailing good humour and courtesy as a supportive colleague.
“I have come to value and rely upon his judgment,” he said. “Quite simply he has been a rock of common sense.”
“While all of us on the court were saddened when we learnt that we were losing you, we are very pleased that such an opportunity has opened up, for which you are eminently qualified, with your sense of fairness and your fearlessness,” he said.
Mr Justice Mahon has a long-standing interest in defence issues. While at school at Clongowes Wood College, the young Mahon was an active member of the FCA and rose to the heights of three-star private.
His military service left its mark with tales that seemed to spring from the pages of Hotspur, Mr Justice Birmingham said, along with a respect for the importance of uniform and a penchant for the military great coat, even on social occasions.
With a background steeped in the law – his father Seamus was a solicitor before being appointed a judge of the District Court and his brothers are partners in the Tullamore firm of Hoey Denning, Mr Justice Mahon served on the midland and eastern circuits after being called to the Bar.
Mr Justice Birmingham said if the reform recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal in relation to lobbying, political donations, standards in public office, had been implemented in full, Ireland would be a more open and transparent society in which allegations of wrongdoing could be investigated in an expeditious manner.
Mr Justice Mahon’s book on estate agency and auctioneering law was mentioned as a legal best-seller and an essential purchase for those in that profession.
Thanking those who paid warm tributes, Mr Justice Mahon also thanked his wife Anne Marie and their children Robert, Simon and Rebecca, for their love and support. He said his late son Ross, who sadly died after a short illness in January, remained constantly in their thoughts.