Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Top NI judicial post for former Newry pupil

A former pupil of the Sacred Heart Grammar School in Newry is one of two women to have made history in Northern Ireland by becoming the first females to be appointed High Court judges.

Siobhan Keegan QC, and her compatriot Denise McBride QC, were sworn into the positions by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan on Friday.

The women have replaced Justice Reginald Weir and Justice Ronald Weatherup who were both elevated to Appeal Court judges earlier this year.

Mrs Keegan (née O’Hagan) was educated at St. Clare’s Primary School and the Sacred Heart Grammar before graduating with LLB Hons from Queens University in July 1993.  She was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in September 1994 and achieved her QC appointment in June 2006.  Her practice has mainly been in family law, also working in a range of other areas including criminal, judicial review, and other civil law.

Mrs Keegan has been a Bar member on the Children Order Advisory Committee, a long standing member of the Judicial Liaison Family Law Committee and was Chair of the Family Bar Association for two years from 2011-2013.  She was elected as Vice Chair of the Bar Council in 2014.

Sir Declan Morgan, who is chairman of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission (NIJAC), welcomed the appointments: “Ms Denise McBride QC and Mrs Siobhan Keegan QC are excellent lawyers and meritorious appointments and I am confident they will serve as members of the judiciary for the benefit of the community as a whole,” he said.