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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Members of the Eighth Dáil - Cecil Patrick Lavery

Cecil Patrick Lavery (6 October 1894 – 31 December 1973) was an Irish lawyer, Fine Gael Party politician and judge. He was elected as a TD and then as a Senator, and served as Attorney General before being appointed as a Supreme Court judge.

Cecil Lavery was educated at Castleknock College, Dublin and later UCD where he became one of the first auditors of the UCD Law Society. In 1927 appointed to set up a "Memorial Committee" by W.T. Cosgrave, president of the Irish Free State Executive Council in order to advance the process of the Irish National War Memorial Gardens where an impasse situation had evolved.

Lavery was elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt, at a by-election held on 17 June 1935 in the Dublin County constituency, after the death of Fine Gael TD Batt O'Connor. He was returned to the 9th Dáil at the 1937 general election, but the following year at the 1938 general election, he lost his seat to his Fine Gael running-mate Patrick Belton, Snr..

He did not stand for election again until 1948, when he was elected to the 6th Seanad Éireann on the Cultural and Educational Panel, and was appointed as Attorney General by Taoiseach John A. Costello.

Costello made 2 controversial decisions on Lavery's appointment; reversing the practice of many years he decided that Lavery could continue in private practice and that such fees as were paid to him as Attorney General should count as part of his income rather than be paid into the Exchequer. Costello justified both decisions on the ground that Lavery was one of the Bar's top earners and had taken a considerable pay cut as Attorney General.

As Attorney General, he advised on several difficult issues, notably devaluation of the currency and fishing rights in Lough Foyle which were claimed by both Governments, North and South.

He left the Seanad, on 21 April 1950, when he was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court, where he served till his retirement in 1966. He was offered the Presidency of the High Court but withdrew his name, apparently after the Department of Justice raised a question about his qualifications.

In 1961, on the retirement of Conor Maguire, Costello lobbied hard for Lavery to be appointed Chief Justice, calling him with perhaps some exaggeration " the outstanding Irish legal figure of the last half-century". He later lobbied, also unsuccessfully, for Lavery to be appointed a judge of the International Court of Justice ( apparently the only time an Irish candidate was even considered).

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