After sixteen years as Donegal’s State Solicitor, Ciaran Liddy has left his position after being nominated as a District Court Judge.
The popular Sligo man, who lives on the outskirts of Letterkenny, was applauded by former colleagues at Letterkenny courthouse.
There was a huge round of applause for Mr Liddy as he emerged from the Judge’s chambers with District Court Judge Éiteáin Cunniingham, herself a native of Letterkenny.
Judge Cunningham revealed that she and Mr Liddy actually trained together as solicitors in Sligo.
She added that she was delighted for Mr Liddy but also for his wife Alice and all of his colleagues and friends.
She said “He is a most knowledgeable, diligent, skilled and focussed lawyer. Not only has Mr. Liddy a well informed legal sense and technical understanding but he combines these with the requisite temperament and interpersonal skills required by a Judge.
“Mr. Liddy is an accomplished advocate able to present a case in a clear and concise manner.”
Judge Cunningham said she has worked with Mr Liddy since starting her role as a Judge in Court One in Donegal in recent months.
She added “I have experienced Mr. Liddy’s work over the past few months and Mr. Liddy has shown an ability to manage people and issues in a calm reassuring way.
“Mr. Liddy puts his client’s case forward in a careful precise manner without prejudice or bias. He is approachable and always fair.
“His personal qualities, temperament, legal skills and experience will make him a wonderful appointment.
I look forward to working with Mr. Liddy and wish him every success in his new role. I have no doubt that the bench will be richly enhanced by his membership of it.”
Among the other members of the packed courtroom to congratulate Mr Liddy was Garda Superintendent Michael Finan, solicitor Kieran O’Gorman and Letterkenny Courts Service manager Geoffrey McGonagle.
Inspector Finan said the downside of Mr Liddy’s appointment was the loss of a state solicitor who was “fair, diligent and never afraid to make a difficult decision.”
He added that on a personal level he always found Mr Liddy to be approachable and helpful and was an “absolute gentleman” who was always on the end of the phoneline if Gardai needed him.
Solicitor Kieran O’Gorman said the volume of work in the courts today meant that the position of the state solicitor was a much busier one than previous years.
He also said that behind every great man there was a great woman and paid tribute to Mr Liddy’s wife Alice.
He joked that he and his colleagues will miss Mr Liddy very much and are very worried about who his successor will be.
Manager of the Letterkenny Courts Service, Geoffrey McGonagle said Mr Liddy was always a pleasure to deal with.
He added that he always brought a calming influence to proceedings and always showed compassion to people.
“These skills will serve him well and I look forward to working with you in the future,” he added.
Mr Liddy said himself and Alice have been overwhelmed these past weeks with the messages conveying congratulations on his appointment.
He quoted a saying which he said resonates with him on a regular basis and that is “It is better to be born lucky than born rich”
He added “I can identify with this saying. I have been lucky to have had an opportunity to come to work in Donegal and take up the position of State Solicitor.
“Lucky to have an opportunity to work in such a wonderful county, raise a family, foster friendships and enjoy my pastimes in such a wonderful environment.
“Lucky to have a wonderful place of work, here, this courtroom, this is our place of work
“Working with such and accomplished skilled Judge as Judge Cunningham and the President of the District Court Judge Kelly who have shown such compassion and empathy to those who come before them.
“Working with such professional, patient and understanding colleagues in the legal profession
“Working with members of An Garda Siochana who strive for excellence eery time they respond to a call for assistance. That excellence flows from the top, from Superintendent Finan, Supt Goretti Sheridan, Supt David Kelly and Supt Colm Nevin.
“Working with court staff who have shown endless patience and capacity to help myself and others.”
He paid a special tribute to those with whom he had shared an office.
“Alice, I could not have asked for a better partner in the practice
“Erin Meehan and Maggie Sheridan deserve special mention for they worked tirelessly to keep me right, they worked so well with stakeholders such as An Garda Siochana, victims and other solicitor’s offices. Their hard work made my role that much easier.”
Signing off from his role one last time, Mr Liddy said he genuinely hopes to return to Donegal at some stage in the future.
He added “Judge Cunningham, if I am half as lucky in my career on the bench as a member of the judiciary as I have been as State Solicitor, I will consider myself off to an excellent start.
“I understand that I must leave Donegal now to sit as a judge elsewhere and enter a period of, for want of a better expression “decontamination” after 19 years prosecuting for the Director, and after that I hope to return to Donegal at some time in the future.
“Lastly, to my successor whomever he or she is I say enjoy it as it is the best role a solicitor could hope to have in the criminal justice system, second only I hope, to a place on the bench as a member of the judiciary. Thank you.”