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Special celebrations for the John M Kelly Lecture 2024 marking ten years in Sutherland School of Law

Special celebration for the John M Kelly Lecture 2024 to mark ten years of Sutherland School of LawJudge Suzanne Kingston delivering the John M Kelly Lecture 2024

Judge Suzanne Kingston delivering the John M Kelly Lecture 2024

The John M Kelly Lecture is one of the most important events in the calendar of UCD Sutherland School of Law.   This year, the School marks its tenth year in the Sutherland School of Law building and the lecture was a special celebration of that milestone.  The School was very pleased to welcome Judge Suzanne Kingston of the General Court of the European Union to deliver the John M Kelly Memorial Lecture 2024. Judge Kingston was a very highly regarded Senior Counsel practising at the Irish bar, prior to her appointment to the bench. She has also been a faculty member at UCD Sutherland School of Law since 2007. From 2015 to 2017 she led a major project in the School funded by the European Research Council (ERC).  This was the first ERC funded project at UCD Sutherland School of Law. The achievement was groundbreaking and since then, the School has acquired four more prestigious European Research Council projects.

As part of the ten-year celebrations, the school was honoured that the President of UCD, Professor Orla Feely also attended the lecture and made a speech to the large audience.  She welcomed the guests which included the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, many members of the judiciary, distinguished members of the wider legal profession and staff and students. She acknowledged the enormous contribution that philanthropy has played in the success of the School, both in the capital project for the building but also in providing financial supports for students and funding academic research and teaching posts.

The evening started with two current students speaking about their experiences of studying in UCD Sutherland School of Law. BCL Law with Politics student, Aisling Maloney, talked movingly about how the supports she has received, including a Cothrom na Féinne scholarship, have been transformative for her university experience. BCL Law with History student, Robert Grendon then spoke about the richness of his college experience, especially in contrast to the start of his degree during the pandemic when all classes were taught virtually. 

Professor Laurent Pech, Dean of Law spoke about the history of the John M Kelly lecture, honouring as it does, a former faculty member who also served as a government minister and attorney general who was a renowned, and often quoted, expert on constitutional law. 

Chief Justice, Mr Donal O’Donnell, a former student of Professor Kelly in UCD, described him as one of the most brilliant people to have taught in the School of Law. He also acknowledged the enormous contribution of the late Peter Sutherland in the area of European law. The Chief Justice introduced Judge Suzanne Kingston and expressed his great admiration for her achievements, commenting on how she has successfully managed to intersect an academic and a practising career and, at all times, demonstrate an unfailing commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

Judge Kingston’s lecture title was "On the role of constitutional identity: Teach solais or will-o’-the-wisp?” and in a highly informative overview of the subject, she talked about how the concept has given rise to a heated debate in the EU, with some regarding it as a guiding light and others arguing, equally vociferously, that it is essentially an opportunity for constitutional relativism.  Citing a myriad of cases from across the European Union, from the formation of the EEC to the modern day, Professor Kingston finished by concluding that, in her opinion, the concept of constitutional identity is here to stay.

A full video recording of Professor Kingston’s lecture will be available shortly and a paper will be published in the next issue of the Irish Jurist.

The Chief Justice, Mr Donal O’Donnell congratulates Robert Grendon and Aisling Maloney on their speeches

Former Supreme Court Justice, Mary Finlay Geoghegan with Judge Suzanne Kingston and Professor Orla Feely


Stephen Holst, Managing Partner of McCann FitzGerald with James Healy and Professor Laurent Pech

Professor Cathryn Costello with Michael Jackson, Managing Partner of Matheson LLP and Dr Amy Strecker

Former Attorney General, Harry Whelehan, Elizabeth Mullan and Declan McCourt, Chair of the UCD Sutherland School of Law Development Council


The audience included many PhD candidates and staff from UCD Sutherland School of Law

UCD Sutherland School of Law

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.