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Attorney General of Ireland

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(Redirected from Attorney-General of Ireland)

The Attorney General (Irish: An Ard-Aighne) is a constitutional officer who is the official adviser to the Irish Government in matters of law. He is in effect the chief law officer in the Republic of Ireland. The Attorney General is not a member of the Government but does participate in cabinet meetings when invited and attends government meetings.

As the Attorney General advises the Government on the constitutionality of bills and treaties, he also presents the Government's case if the President refers any bill to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution, before signing it.

The Attorney General has few prosecution duties; these are limited to functions under the various Fisheries Acts and Extradition Acts. Instead, the Director of Public Prosecutions has responsibility for all other criminal prosecutions in the State.

The Office of the Attorney General consists of a number of different offices:

  1. - The Advisory Counsel to the Attorney General (providing legal advice);
  2. - The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (drafting legislation);
  3. - The Chief State Solicitor's Office (providing litigation, conveyancing and other transactional services);
  4. - The Statute Law Revision Unit (simplifying and improving the body of statute law).

Part of the Attorney General's function has been to identify and prepare the repeal of all legislation passed before independence. This includes laws of the United Kingdom, the Great Britain, of England and of the Irish Parliament. For example the killing of cattle in Dublin is still regulated, in part by an Irish act of 1743, whilst the "Treatment of Foreign Merchants" is governed by 25 Edw. 1 Magna Carta c. 30, an act of the English Parliament dated 1297.

The office, which was created in the 1937 Constitution of Ireland, is a lineal successor of the offices of Attorney-General for Ireland, Attorney-General for Southern Ireland and the Attorney-General of the Irish Free State. Unlike the modern office, those earlier offices were a creation of statute law, not a written constitution. Unlike the modern office, the earlier offices also had a dash between the words attorney and general.

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List of Attorneys-General

Attorneys-General of the Irish Free State

No. Name Took Office Left Office
1.Hugh Kennedy January 31, 1922 June 5, 1924
2.John O'Byrne June 7, 1924 January 9, 1926
3.John A. Costello January 9, 1926 March 9, 1932
4.Conor Maguire March 10, 1932 November 2, 1936
5.James Geoghegan November 2, 1936 December 22, 1936
6.Patrick Lynch December 22, 1936 December 31.

Attorneys General under Bunreacht na hÉireann

No. Name Took Office Left Office
6.Patrick Lynch January 1 1938 March 1, 1940
7.Kevin Haugh March 2, 1940 October 10, 1940
8.Kevin Dixon October 10, 1940 April 30, 1946
9.Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh April 30, 1946 February 18, 1948
10.Cecil Lavery February 19, 1948 April 21, 1950
11.Charles Casey April 21, 1950 June 12, 1951
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh June 14, 1951 July 11, 1953
12.Thomas Teevan July 11, 1953 January 30, 1954
13.Aindrias Ó Caoimh January 30, 1954 June 2, 1954
14.Patrick McGilligan June 2, 1954 March 20, 1957
Aindrias Ó Caoimh March 20, 1957 March 15, 1965
15.Colm Condon March 16, 1965 March 14, 1973
17.Declan Costello March 15, 1973 May 19, 1977
18.John M. Kelly May 20, 1977 July 5, 1977
19.Anthony J. Hederman July 6, 1977 June 29, 1981
20.Peter Sutherland June 30, 1981 March 9, 1982
21.Patrick Connolly March 10, 1982 August 16, 1982
John L. Murray August 17, 1982 December 14, 1982
Peter Sutherland December 15, 1982 December 12, 1984
22.John Rogers December 13, 1984 March 10, 1987
John L. Murray March 11, 1987 September 25, 1991
23.Harry Whelehan September 26, 1991 November 11, 1994
24.Eoghan Fitzsimons November 11, 1994 December 15, 1994
25.Dermot Gleeson December 15, 1994 June 26, 1997
26.David Byrne June 26, 1997 July 17, 1999
27.Michael McDowell July 17, 1999 June 6, 2002
28.Rory Brady June 7, 2002 present

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