04 Dec 2021

Death announced of former Offaly district court judge

Death announced of outspoken former Longford district court judge John F Neilan

The late Judge John Neilan

The death has been announced this afternoon of former Tullamore district court judge, John F Neilan Jr, who retired from the bench in 2010. 

John F Neilan Jr, (retired judge) ‘Rathanane’, Abbey Street, Roscommon, died peacefully, at home, with his family, on Wednesday, November 24. 

He was first called to the bench in the 1980s and he presided at district court sittings in District Number 9 which covered the midlands counties of Longford, Westmeath and Offaly. 

His first sitting was in Tullamore in 1982 and he returned to the county from 1998 to 2008.

Proceedings in his courtroom were never dull, and in 2009, during a bizarre incident as he heard a family law case at Longford court, Judge John Neilan was hit by a shot from a pellet gun which a solicitor was exhibiting as evidence.

Judge Neilan very publicly crossed swords with former Justice Minister Michael McDowell when in 2004 he threatened to jail all drunk drivers that appeared in his court for a week. 

Mr McDowell pointed out that there was a Constitutional right to bail except where there were specific reasons for denying it and in response to this, the judge withdrew from hearing drink driving cases for six months in the light of the minister's attempts to "intimidate and humiliate" his court. 

And once, when asked if he would join the minister at the opening of the refurbished Longford courthouse, the judge quipped: "I wouldn't share the platform with him if he was opening the gates of heaven."

He also endured the wrath of the Courts Service when he described it as "totally, absolutely, utterly incompetent from the CEO down" and staffed by officials who were "far removed from operating" the system and were merely "moving figures around on a screen".

Funeral Arrangements

Sympathy is extended to his wife Peggy, daughter Gillian, sons Jonathan and Jevan; their respective partners Damien, Deirdre and Amanda; grandsons Daniel, Conor, Christian, Finn and Toman; sisters Ann and Bridget; brothers William and Gerard; sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.

He is predeceased by sisters Elaine and Edwina; brothers Pat, Brian and Maurice; and brother-in-law Gerry Liddy. May he rest in peace.

Reposing at home in Abbey Street, Roscommon on Friday afternoon, November 26 from 1pm until 5pm. In adherence with current guidelines, this will be walk through only.

Removal from the house on Saturday morning, November 27 at 10.45am arriving at the Sacred Heart Church, Roscommon for Mass of the Resurrection at 11am. Burial afterwards in St Coman’s Cemetery.

John’s family very much appreciate your support at this time. Family flowers only. Donations welcome towards your local hospice.

Please note that the funeral Mass will be broadcast in the Roscommon town area on the Parish Radio 105.9 FM and can also be viewed live on Saturday at 11am by CLICKING HERE

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