Former Supreme Court Judge Henry Barron has died at the age of 81.

Mr Justice Barron passed away after a short illness at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin yesterday evening.

The Taoiseach said Mr Justice Barron had a 'long and distinguished' career at both the High and Supreme Courts.

'As the sole member of the Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 and into a number of other bombings and atrocities which occurred in this State during the 1970s, he undertook his task with great sensitivity and thoroughness,’ Brian Cowen said in a statement.

Mr Barron spent 15 years as a High Court judge and made history by granting Ireland's first divorce in 1997. He was appointed to the Supreme Court later that year.

After retiring from the bench in 2000, he was commissioned by the Government to investigate the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The Barron Report was critical of the Fine Gael/Labour Government of the day, which he found could have done more to catch those responsible.

It was also highly critical of the garda investigation into the bombings, which claimed 33 lives.

However, the report could not reach a conclusion as to whether there was collusion by British authorities.

Mr Barron is survived by two sons, two daughters and ten grandchildren.

Margaret Irwin of the Justice for the Forgotten group, which has campaigned for a full inquiry into the 1974 bombings, paid tribute to Judge Barron.

She said that the group was very sad to hear of his death and offered its condolences to his family.