Release date: 11/07/2019
Statement by Micheál P. O'Higgins SC, Chairman, Council of The Bar of Ireland on the passing of Noel Whelan SC.
On behalf of the Council of The Bar of Ireland, and all our colleagues at the Bar, I wish to express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Noel Whelan SC today.
Noel was a highly respected and popular member of The Bar of Ireland, and was widely known for his generosity with his legal colleagues, his clients and his many friends. As well as playing a leading role in public and political life, Noel commanded an impressive legal practice in Dublin and Waterford for a number of decades. He was an allrounder with a particular expertise in criminal law, electoral law and constitutional law, in which fields he excelled. He took silk last year but sadly his illness has cut short his stellar career.
I was privileged to get to know Noel in his college days and from early on everyone knew he had star quality and was a gifted communicator. His ability to explain complex issues concisely, and break legal issues down to their essentials, made him a skilled and persuasive advocate, both in Court and in the media. Noel’s point was always reasonable and measured and invariably interesting and persuasive.
Noel sometimes came across as a shy person, but in conversation his warmth and humour, and sense of mischief, would shine through. Noel’s contribution to national and political affairs was immense: a regular columnist for the Irish Times he was a frequent contributor on radio shows, television, speaking engagements and conferences. His breadth of knowledge and books – on all topics - was inspiring and came across in conversation, and also in his insightful contributions on air.
Never one to hurl from the ditch, Noel never shied away from standing up for what he thought was right – in the Courtroom, in the political trenches or when campaigning for social change. Ireland is the better for that today, in so many ways.
I would like to extend our sympathies to Noel’s wife, Sineád and his son, Séamus and all his own family members.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
Micheál P. O’Higgins SC
Council of The Bar of Ireland