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History of ICEL

The Irish Centre for European Law is based in Trinity College Dublin.  It was founded in 1988 by Senator Mary Robinson S.C. (as she then was) who served as the Centre's first Director prior to becoming President of Ireland.


The Centre's first Chairman was The Hon Judge Thomas F O'Higgins, then a judge at the European Court of Justice and formerly Chief Justice of Ireland.


The subscribers to the first Memorandum and Articles of Association on the 15 April 1988 were: Kieran Corrigan, Accountant and Barrister; Finbarr Murphy, Legal Adviser; Professor Nial Osborough; The Hon Judge Thomas F O'Higgins; Mary Robinson, Senior Counsel; Bernard Rogan, Executive; William A Watts, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.


The founding Board members of the Centre were: The Hon Judge Thomas F O'Higgins (Chairman); Kieran Corrigan (Secretary); Geraldine Clarke; John D Cooke SC; Denis Corboy; Thomas Earlie; The Hon Mr Justice Liam Hamilton; Dr Miriam Hederman O'Brien; Brendan Kiernan; Alan Mathews; Bryan MacMahon; Finbarr Murphy; Donal Nevin; Professor Nial Osborough; Mary Robinson SC; Bernard Rogan; Louden Ryan; Peter Sutherland SC; John Temple Lang; and, Provost William Watts.

Mary Robinson (at right) Founder and first Director of the ICEL at an early Centre Conference.
Mary Robinson at ICEL Conference

Subsequent Directors have been: Mr Alex Schuster BL, Advocate General Anthony M. Collins, Dr Cathryn Costello BL, Mr Noel Travers SC, Mr Andrew Beck BL, Dr Jonathan Tomkin BL, Mr Nathy Dunleavy BL, Mr Gary Fitzgerald BL, and Dr Stephen Brittain BL. The current CEO is Eoin Delap BL.

Subsequent Chairmen have been: The Hon Judge Donal Barrington, then a member of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities; The Hon Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, then a member of the Supreme Court and a former Advocate General at the European Court of Justice; The Hon Ms Justice Fidelma Macken, then a member of the Supreme Court and a former judge at the European Court of Justice; and The Hon John D Cooke, a retired member of the High Court and the General Court of the EU. The current President is Advocate General Anthony M Collins.

In the Centre’s inaugural publication, Senator Mary Robinson S.C., wrote:-

“The Irish Centre for European Law at Trinity College Dublin has been formed to provide a specialist response to the enormous challenge of the Community’s Internal Market programme. To meet this challenge the Centre has created a unique linkage between legal practitioners, academic lawyers and representatives of the wide range of sectors affected by European Law.”

The Centre has been associated with the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin since foundation. It maintains strong links with other educational organisations such as the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Trier, Germany. Legal expertise from Northern Ireland is represented on the Board and in the Centre’s membership.

Read the address of Mary McAleese, President of Ireland at the Centre's 20th Anniversary Conference, which places the Centre in its historical context.

Read Mary Robinson’s original memorandum to practitioners in which she stressed the importance of European Law to Irish Lawyers.

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