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Thalidomide victim named as new judge


Gerard O'Brien

Gerard O'Brien

Gerard O'Brien

A MAN whose physical development was damaged by the drug thalidomide has been appointed as a judge to the Circuit Court.

Gerard O'Brien, a solicitor based in Co Tipperary, has overcome being born with no arms and just one leg to have a hugely successful career.

Mr O'Brien worked as a teacher in CBS Monkstown in Dublin before retraining for a career in law.

He has also served as a councillor for Thurles Town Council, as a member of Fianna Fail, and worked as the state solicitor for north Tipperary.

Mr O'Brien established the firm Gerard O'Brien Solicitors in 2006.

Prior to that he worked in Dublin-based law firms Garrett Sheehan & Co Solicitors and Roger Greene & Sons Solicitors.

Chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland, John Dolan, has congratulated Mr O'Brien on his appointment and said he would help bring a different perspective to the judiciary.

"It highlights the importance of having people with disabilities in key areas such as the judiciary.

"He can bring a perspective that might not always be there," he said.

Mr Dolan said that it was a good news story, but that such appointments "shouldn't be a good news story", because more people with disabilities should be appointed to such roles.

He said that there were barriers in education that made it more difficult for talented people like Mr O'Brien to progress.

"He's probably had to work harder than most. There are huge problems in this country and we need to ensure that the supports are there that allow people with disabilities to get ahead. People need to know that they can get a break.

"They don't necessarily need to go on to be high flying judges or state solicitors," he said.

Another Government nomination for appointment to the Circuit Court was current District Court Judge Eugene O'Kelly.

The judge is a past president of the Clare Law Society represented Clare woman Sharon Collins in the so-called "Lying Eyes" case.