Former Lord Chief Justice Robert Carswell dies at 88

time:2023-06-02 15:53:06source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center4

Lord Carswell, a former Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland, has died, aged 88.

Born Robert Douglas Carswell, he took on the top judicial post in 1997 and continued in the role until 2004.

He became a barrister in 1957, a QC in 1971 and later served as a judge in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

In 1984, on the day before he was sworn in as a High Court judge, Lord Carswell narrowly escaped injury when an IRA bomb exploded under his car.

He later served in the House of Lords as a crossbencher until 2019.

In his final speech in the House of Lords in October 2018 he discussed the progress that he felt had been made in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998.

"During the Troubles tensions were severe. Those of us who lived through it and close to it, as I did - sometimes too close for comfort - are well aware that," he said.

"I have a clear feeling that things are improving. People want it that way.

"I remember being asked a number of years ago in London: 'What does Northern Ireland need now?'

"I replied without hesitation: 'Twenty years of nothing happening.'"

In a Lords debate in 2010 he said there should be no more public inquiries into the Troubles, adding that Northern Ireland "would benefit from trying to put the past behind us".

Lord Carswell also held other roles in public life, including chairman of the University of Ulster's governing body between 1984 and 1994 and chancellor of the Diocese of Armagh and the Diocese of Down and Dromore from 1990 until 1997.

Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan said Lord Carswell had "served with great distinction" and had made a "huge contribution to our legal system throughout his career".

"Lord Carswell was held in high esteem by his judicial colleagues and the legal profession," said Dame Siobhan.

"He maintained his connections in retirement and was a good friend to many."

Lord Carswell is survived by his wife and former Lady Romayne Carswell, who is a former lord lieutenant of Belfast, and their two daughters Catherine and Patricia.

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