Northern Ireland news

Turlough O'Donnell: Judge who jailed Shankill Butchers dies after 'a life courageously lived'

Turlough O'Donnell with his son Donal, a Supreme Court judge in the Republic

TRIBUTES have been been paid to Turlough O'Donnell, the former judge who presided over the trial of the Shankill Butchers, following his death yesterday.

The family of Mr O'Donnell, who was originally from Newry but lived on the Glen Road in west Belfast before retiring to Blackrock in Co Louth, said he died "peacefully after a life courageously lived".

Mr O'Donnell served as a judge throughout the Troubles, overseeing some of the most infamous paramilitary trials in Northern Ireland legal history.

He was also a defence lawyer for the last man to receive the death penalty before capital punishment was abolished in the north.

Robert Andrew McGladdery was found guilty of the murder of 19-year-old shop assistant Pearl Gamble in 1961 and sentenced to hang.

As a judge he presided over the 1979 trial of a 10-man gang, known as the Shankill Butchers, for the barbaric murders of 19 Catholics.

Sentencing Robert 'Basher' Bates to serve 14 life sentences, Mr Justice O'Donnell told him he should only be released from prison if he contracted a terminal illness.

"I mean life imprisonment to mean life imprisonment," he said.

Both Mr O'Donnell's sons, Donal and Turlough, followed him into the legal profession.

Donal O'Donnell made history as the second and youngest person in the Republic to be promoted straight from the Bar to the Supreme Court.

Turlough O'Donnell is also chairman of the Bar Council and a Senior Counsel in Dublin.

Mr O'Donnell's wife Eileen, formerly McKinley, passed away a few years ago and he is further survived by daughters Máire and Eileen, his brother Dónall and 12 grandchildren.

Solicitor Denis Moloney said the former senior judge was a "close personal family friend who retired with great distinction".

"He served as a Lord Justice and a High Court judge throughout the Troubles. He was a distinguished judge and it is with deep regret to hear of his passing and my sympathies are with the extended family," he said.

"The Irish legal fraternity has lost a great luminary."

Mr O'Donnell will be buried at Haggardstown Cemetery following funeral Mass tomorrow at St Oliver Plunkett Church, Blackrock tomorrow.

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Northern Ireland news