The Irish Nurses Organisation learned with great regret, and sadness, of the death of Ms Justice Mella Carroll on January 15, 2006, who, in addition to her exemplary service as a judge of the High Court, also chaired the Commission on Nursing which reported in 1998.
Many of her friends and colleagues have, since her untimely death, spoken warmly of her brilliant legal career and how, in so many ways, she broke new ground for women in the legal profession.
For our part we had most intimate experience of Justice Carroll during the 1997/98 period when she chaired and gave direction to the Commission on Nursing. The passage of time will confirm that the Commission on Nursing Report, A Blueprint for the Future, will prove the most significant milestone in the history of nursing and midwifery in Ireland.
It was from this far-sighted report that nursing and midwifery moved, at honours degree level, to the third level sector; clinical career pathways were formally acknowledged and recommended; the role of nurse/midwife managers was significantly reviewed; and a miscellaneous number of other areas were crystallised and recommended for significant change.
I am certain that, were it not for the determination and commitment of Justice Carroll, the Commission would not have recommended such significant change. This transformation continues to ripple through nursing and midwifery and will, for years to come, give shape and direction to the ongoing changes that are taking place.
Justice Carroll would be the first to admit that the Commission report did not resolve all of our problems and issues. However, she undoubtedly provided us with a solid blueprint and then, in her own assertive and direct way, told us to take up the challenge and move into a new era.
On behalf of the president, Executive Council, membership and staff, we would like to send our condolences and deepest sympathies to Jean, Justice Mella Carroll’s niece, who works with us here in the INO, and all her extended family who, we know, have lost someone they deeply loved and cherished.
Justice Mella Carroll was undoubtedly a brilliant legal scholar and the ultimate lady who, in so many ways, did this country great service. We were all enriched by having the honour to meet and work with her.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam