John L. Murray

John Loyola Murray (born 10 May 1943) is a retired Irish judge who served as Chief Justice of Ireland from 2004 to 2011, a Judge of the Supreme Court from 1999 to 2015, a Judge of the European Court of Justice from 1992 to 1999 and as Attorney General of Ireland from August 1982 to December 1982 and 1987 to 1991.

John L. Murray
10th Chief Justice of Ireland
In office
23 July 2004[1]  25 July 2011
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Preceded byRonan Keane
Succeeded bySusan Denham
Judge of the Supreme Court
In office
2 May 1999  25 July 2015
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Judge of the European Court of Justice
In office
15 September 1992  2 May 1999
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byEuropean Council
21st Attorney General of Ireland
In office
11 March 1987  25 September 1991
TaoiseachCharles Haughey
Preceded byJohn Rogers
Succeeded byHarry Whelehan
In office
17 August 1982  14 December 1982
TaoiseachCharles Haughey
Preceded byPatrick Connolly
Succeeded byPeter Sutherland
Personal details
John Loyola Murray

(1943-05-10) 10 May 1943
Limerick, Ireland
Political partyFianna Fáil
Spouse(s)Gabrielle Murray (m. 1975)
EducationCrescent College
Alma mater

Early career

Murray was born in Limerick in 1943 and educated at Crescent College, Limerick, Rockwell College, County Tipperary, University College Dublin, and the Honorable Society of King's Inns. He was twice elected President of the Union of Students in Ireland in 1966/67. He qualified as a barrister in 1967 and had a successful law practice dealing with commercial, civil, and constitutional law.

Attorney General

He was Attorney General of Ireland under the Fianna Fáil government from 17 August to 14 December 1982. The Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, appointed him as Attorney General after his predecessor, Patrick Connolly, resigned abruptly over the GUBU scandal, when a murderer Malcolm McArthur was arrested in Connolly's Dalkey flat.

His next term in office as Attorney General extended from 11 March 1987 to 25 September 1991. In 1988, he refused to allow the extradition of Fr. Patrick Ryan to Britain on explosives charges dealing with the Provisional IRA, on the basis that the trial he would be given would not be fair to due excessive media coverage and remarks made in Parliament by the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher which were considered prejudicial.

Judicial career

In 1991, he was appointed as a Judge of the European Court of Justice serving until 1999, when he was appointed to the Irish Supreme Court.

He served on the Supreme Court from 1999. He was appointed as Chief Justice of Ireland in 2004 and retired as Chief Justice in 2011, though he remained a member of the Supreme Court until 2015. As a former Chief Justice, he is a member of the Irish Council of State.

In 2011, Chief Justice Murray became involved in controversy with the Government over a proposal to amend the Constitution to allow the remuneration of judges to be reduced in parallel to the remuneration of public servants in State employment.[2][3]

The criticisms of the Government's plans were contained in a 12-page critique by Chief Justice Murray, and the President of the High Court, Nicholas Kearns, and published in the Court Services website, but subsequently redacted at the request of the Government.[4]

He retired from the Supreme Court in June 2015.[5]

Chancellor of the University of Limerick

Mr. Justice Murray was appointed Chancellor of the University of Limerick (and so also Chairman of UL’s Governing Authority) in 2013.[6]

Telephone Tapping Inquiry

In January 2016, it was announced that the Minister for Justice and Equality had appointed Mr Justice Murray to conduct a review of the legislation allowing access to the phone records of journalists. Mr Justice Murray was asked to propose any legislative changes required, and to examine the legislation in other countries and examine best international practice in this area.[7]


Mr. Justice Murray is married to Gabrielle Walsh, daughter of Mr. Justice Brian Walsh, a former Supreme Court judge, described as "one of Ireland's greatest judges" and the "outstanding legal reforming mind of his generation" by Prof. John J. Lee,.[8]

His brother, Michael D Murray, is State Solicitor for Limerick City.[9]

See also


Legal offices
Preceded by
Patrick Connolly
Attorney General of Ireland
Succeeded by
Peter Sutherland
Preceded by
John Rogers
Attorney General of Ireland
Succeeded by
Harry Whelehan
Preceded by
Ronan Keane
Chief Justice of Ireland
Succeeded by
Susan Denham
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