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Senior women lawyers and judges were among the audience as Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring was named “Woman Lawyer of the Year” by the Irish Women Lawyers Association (IWLA).

The award was presented at the IWLA’s annual gala dinner in the President’s Hall at Blackhall Place, supported by The Bar of Ireland and the Law Society.

Eversheds Sutherland sponsored the pre-dinner reception where Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness, honorary IWLA president, made the presentation speech.

Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring then made “an inspiring and uplifting acceptance speech” which received “a standing ovation from a capacity gathering”, IWLA committee member Cathy Smith told Irish Legal News.

Ms Justice Marie Baker, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly were among the senior judges in attendance, alongside the Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus, and the Chief State Solicitor, Maria Browne.

Circuit Court judges Petria McDonnell, Susan Ryan, Sinead Ni Chulachain, Karen Fergus and Sarah Berkeley were also present.

Further presentations were made to outgoing IWLA chairperson Aoife McNickle and to Maura Butler, solicitor and course manager at the Law Society, who recently stepped down from the IWLA committee after 16 years. A warm tribute was paid to Ms Butler by Noeline Blackwell, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

IWLA chairperson Maeve Delargy took the opportunity at the Gala to outline to members and attendees the newly adopted vision statement and mission statement for the IWLA.