Irish judge elected president of European Court of Human Rights

Published date20 September 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Speaking to the Irish Times in an interview this summer, Judge O'Leary said the court was at a "watershed moment" due to the invasion of Ukraine, as the human rights abuses of the war served as a reminder of why "this organisation, the court and the convention system is so important"

"The raison d'etre of the court is to ensure that Europe doesn't relive the horrors of the past," she said.

Judge O'Leary studied civil law at University College Dublin until 1989 before completing a PhD at the European University Institute of Florence in Italy.

She then taught in universities around Europe including at the University of Cádiz, University of Cambridge, and UCD before joining the cabinet of a judge at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.


She was proposed as Ireland's judge at the European Court of Human Rights and elected for a nine-year term in 2015.

Judge O'Leary takes up the position at a time when the court is facing challenges, including the non-implementation of judgments by member states, and tensions with the United Kingdom where the ruling Conservative Party has bridled at some of the court's rulings.

New British prime minister Liz Truss told a hustings event during her campaign to lead the Conservative Party that she was "prepared" to withdraw from the court's establishing text, the European Convention on Human Rights, if proposed reforms aimed to reduce the court's power in Britain were unsuccessful.


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