The former High Court Judge, Mr Justice Rory O'Hanlon, has died in Dublin at the age of 79. A staunch pro-life and anti-divorce campaigner, he died at the Blackrock Clinic this afternoon after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Keating, and twelve children.
Mr Justice O'Hanlon was educated by the Christian Brothers at Colaiste Mhuire in Dublin and UCD. He was called to the Bar in 1946 and became a judge in 1967. During his career, Mr Justice O'Hanlon was also Irish Language Editor of the Irish Independent.
In 1976, he acted as SC for Ireland when the Government charged Britain at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg with permitting its security forces to ill-treat prisoners held during disturbances in Northern Ireland. The court eventually ruled that the methods used had been inhuman and degrading and in contravention of international law.
During his years at the Bar, Mr Justice O'Hanlon was Professor of Criminal and Constitutional Law at UCD. He was also the first Chairman of the Arbitration Board. Mr Justice O'Hanlon was appointed to the High Court in March 1981.
In April 1992, Mr Justice O'Hanlon was dismissed as President of the Law Reform Commission, just one month after being appointed to the post. The then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, said it was inappropriate for him as President "to express publicly views which tend to suggest to the Government how the policy of the State should be formulated". Mr Reynolds was referring to Mr Justice O'Hanlon's comments that he would favour abandoning membership of the European Union if it meant allowing abortion in the Republic.
Mr Justice O'Hanlon agreed to comply with the Taoiseach's demands that he should withdraw from the Presidency, although he made it clear that "he felt no obligation in law to do so".
After his retirement from the High Court in April 1995, he instigated legal proceedings against the Government, which resulted in a substantial out of court settlement.
Mr Justice O'Hanlon married the pianist Mary Ingoldsby in 1946, shortly after being called to the Bar. She died of cancer in 1968, leaving seven children. Three years later, he married Ms Barbara Keating, a barrister who had been one of his students at UCD. This marriage produced five children.