The death has taken place of Ms Justice Mella Carroll, the first ever female High Court judge. She was 71.

Miss Justice Carroll retired as a High Court judge last November. She was appointed to the High Court in 1980.

She was chairwoman of the Bar Council in the late 1970s and 1980s and inaugurated the new law library.

Among many other appointments, she chaired the Commission on Nursing, producing a landmark report, and was a judge of the administrative tribunal of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is on his way to India for a trade mission, said her death is a great loss.

Mr Ahern said: 'On behalf of the Government I extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the late Ms Justice Mella Carroll. On a sad occasion such as this, it is important to acknowledge her contribution to public life.'

The Tanaiste Mary Harney said Ms Justice Carroll was a superb role model for women in Ireland.