Positive steps ‘urgently’ needed to close gender gap at senior counsel level
Posted on 6th October 2021 at 21:55
Five women among 23 barristers ‘taking silk’ at ceremony in Supreme Court
A century after women were first admitted to the Bar of Ireland, five women were among 23 barristers conferred with senior counsel status by the Chief Justice at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Bar Council chairwoman Maura McNally noted that while about 40 per cent of barristers in the State are female, this fell to around 17 per cent at senior counsel level.
“The reasons for this discrepancy are myriad and we are continuing to put in place initiatives to address and close this gender gap. More positive steps are, in my opinion, not only required, but required urgently,”she said.
The ceremony was one of the last official engagements of Chief Justice Frank Clarke, who retires on Friday.
It was also the first in-person event of the Bar since 2019, with the barristers appearing before the Chief Justice in groups ranging from two to four throughout the day to receive their patents.
The call to the Inner Bar, known as “taking silk”, marks the transition from junior to senior counsel.
Congratulating her colleagues, Ms McNally said the call to the Inner Bar is “a recognition of the advancement and achievement by my 23 colleagues of professional skills across a wide range of legal specialism”.
“Their achievement today reinforces the role and contribution of barristers to the social and economic fabric of the State,” she said.
She said it was “an additional historic occasion” for her five female colleagues taking silk, “especially in this centenary year of the Call to the Bar of the first female barristers in 1921”.
The Bar “continues to support and promote the Inner Bar as a viable career route and progression for female colleagues” and “the focus on female participation in law and the professions continues,” she said.
Those called to the Inner Bar are Ruth A. Fitzgerald SC; Elizabeth Maguire SC; Brian McInerney SC; Andrew Walker SC; James McGowan SC; Tom Flynn SC; Ray Boland SC; Philipp Rahn SC; Cathy Smith SC; Dermot Cahill SC; Ted Harding SC; Conor Bourke SC; Oisin Collins SC; Aillil O’Reilly SC; John Byrne SC; William Abrahamson SC; Tom O’Malley SC; Suzanne Murray SC; Fintan Valentine SC; Robert Fitzpatrick SC; Yvonne McNamara SC; Ronan Lupton SC; and Carsten Zatschler SC.
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