The Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, has led tributes following the death of the Inspector of Prisons, Dermot Kinlen.

Mr Lenihan said Mr Justice Kinlen had a distinguished legal career as a barrister and High Court judge.

Referring to his work on Prison Visiting Committees and as representative of the International Commission of Jurists, Mr Lenihan said Mr Kinlen had a huge personal interest in the welfare of prisoners at home and abroad.

The minister said that Mr Kinlen continued to be a trenchant advocate of the rights of prisoners in his role as Inspector of Prisons.

Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission, said that Mr Kinlen was a great champion of human rights and a man of courtesy and compassion.

'As Inspector of Prisons, Judge Kinlen worked tirelessly to highlight poor conditions in Irish prisons and was forthright in advocating the need for radical reform of the prison system,' Dr Manning said.

Mr Justice Kinlen took up the position in 2002, after retiring as a High Court judge.

He was called to the Bar in 1952 and took silk in 1971.

He was also called to the Bar in England and New South Wales, and was a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.