Appointment of County Court Judges in Northern Ireland.

21 June 2021 - 10.00 am


Her Majesty the Queen has appointed Presiding District Judge Fiona Bagnall and Coroner Patrick McGurgan as County Court Judges in Northern Ireland. The judges were sworn into office before Sir Declan Morgan, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, on 21 June 2021.

Presiding District Judge (MC) Bagnall

Presiding District Judge (MC) Bagnall graduated from Queen’s University of Belfast in 1984 and qualified as a solicitor in 1986 before working in private practice between 1986 and 2003 as an employed solicitor and latterly as a partner in her own practice. In private practice she specialised in Children Law, Administrative Law and Employer’s Liability. Her clients included many Health and Personal Social Services Trusts and other public sector organisations related to the Health Service.

In 2003 Judge Bagnall was appointed to the Magistrates’ Court bench. In April 2006 she was selected by the then Lord Chief Justice, the late Lord Kerr as the inaugural Presiding District Judge (MC) of Northern Ireland.  As such she was responsible to the Lord Chief Justice for the effective and efficient running of the Magistrates’ Courts in Northern Ireland.  Until her appointment as a County Court Judge she was the longest serving Presiding Judge in any judicial tier in Northern Ireland.

In addition to her administrative and judicial responsibilities as a District Judge (MC), Judge Bagnall has been responsible with Dr O’Hare from Probation Service Northern Ireland for leading the establishment and development of the Substance Misuse Court, aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders suffering from long term addiction problems. Judge Bagnall also sat as a judicial member on the Board of the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan

Coroner Patrick McGurgan obtained his Bachelor’s degree of Law from Queen’s University Belfast in 1992 and was admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 1994.

In 2016 Coroner McGurgan was sworn into the office of Coroner for Northern Ireland where his duties included deciding on the cause of death, directing post mortems and conducting Inquests. He conducted extensive outreach programmes with numerous stakeholders including the PSNI, NIAS, GPs and all of the Health Trusts. He was also the appointed Mass Fatality Coroner for Northern Ireland.

Prior to taking up his post as Coroner he was engaged as a solicitor/ Director in private practice in Gus Campbell Solicitors. In addition, he has previously held roles as Guardian ad Litem panel solicitor, vice-Chairman of St. Patrick’s PS Armagh Board of Governors, Traffic Penalty Adjudicator, Chairman of NI Boy’s Football Association Disciplinary Tribunal, Chairman of NI Social Care Council Disciplinary Tribunal, Chairman of Police Appeals Tribunal, Chairman of Civil Legal Aid Appeals Panel and Board Member of the Law Society Dispute Resolution Service.

Coroner McGurgan currently holds the following positions:

  • Ministerial appointee to the Management Board of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium;
  • Member of the Audit and Risk Committee of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

There are further appointments for County Court Judge pending.