Law Society of Ireland lauds Eamonn Barnes’ life of achievement in law

The Law Society of Ireland acknowledges the passing of the late Eamonn Barnes, Ireland’s first Director of Public Prosecutions.

  • Society acknowledges integrity and independence drove Barnes’ success in establishing and setting the benchmark for the DPP role.
  • Barnes attracted national and international respect for his era-defining work.

The Director General of the Law Society of Ireland has today, on behalf of the Society, acknowledged the passing of Ireland’s first Director of Public Prosecutions, Eamonn Barnes.

“Eamonn Barnes was a giant in the Irish legal landscape for many decades. Following a distinguished career in legal practice until 1974, it was his influence, independence and integrity as Ireland’s first Director of Public Prosecutions that defined his career and his legacy,” said Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society.

Until 1974, Ireland’s public prosecutions function was operated under the auspices of the Office of the Attorney General. The 1970s were a challenging time both in the political and judicial branches, so to minimise the risk or perception of political interference in prosecutions, the Cosgrave Government enacted the Prosecution of Offences Act 1974, which in effect created the independent role of Director of Public Prosecutions.

“It is a testament to the character and integrity of Eamonn Barnes that the role of DPP was successfully established. Many observers over the years have noted that given the times and politics of the day, it was essential that an individual completely independent of Government make decisions about prosecutions on proper legal grounds alone,” said Mr Murphy.

“However Mr Barnes’ personal attributes and conviction about the independence of the Office safeguarded the role and has truly set the standard that has been maintained to this day.”

Mr Barnes held the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions for 25 years, from 1974 to 1999, and attracted both national and international respect, including being recognised as an Honorary Member of the International Association of Prosecutors at an occasion in Beijing in 1999.

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