Pat McCartan is currently a Circuit Court judge and was formerly an extreme left-wing politician. From 1987 to 1992 he was a Workers Party TD (Member of Parliament) for the Dublin North East constituency. The Workers Party was anti-clerical, pro-Soviet and sent friendly delegations to North Korea. In 1992 he joined with Proinsias De Rossa and five other Workers Party deputies in resigning from the Workers Party and in the creation of a new party, which subsequently became Democratic Left. He stood as a Democratic Left candidate at the 1992 general election but lost his seat. In November 1994 Democratic Left T.D. Pat Rabbitte helped to bring down the Fianna Fail/Labour coalition government by falsely suggesting that there was a conspiracy betewen the Catholic Primate Cardinal Cahal Daly and the Attorney General to protect a paedophile priest. Democratic Left then joined in a new coalition with Fine Gael and the Labour Party. This government subsequently appointed McCartan to the bench as a Circuit Court judge. ( A special "Super-Junior" Ministry was created for Pat Rabbitte to enable him to to participate in cabinet meetings; party leader Proinsias De Rossa had already been made a full Minister.)
As a judge Pat McCartan was involved in two controversial court cases in which the defendents were a former Christian Brother and a Catholic priest respectively. In July 2001 he was the presiding judge when a former Christian Brother Paul Farrell, was convicted of indecently assaulting a then 15-year-old boy in a Galway institution more than 20 years previously. He sentenced Mr. Farrell to a year in jail. On 25 November 2003 the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned Mr Farrell's conviction.
The three-judge court allowed a number of grounds of appeal, quashed the conviction and ordered that there should be no new trial. His wife Marian told the Irish Times that where their experience of the Irish justice system is concerned, Judge McCartan was "the icing on the cake".
On 29 June 2004 the trial of a former missionary priest, Father Chris Conroy, for sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl collapsed at Wicklow Circuit Court yesterday after Judge Pat McCartan ruled that the credibility of the witness, now a young woman, may have been unfairly damaged. He also ruled that the veracity of the witness's father may have been unfairly called into question. Judge McCartan remanded Father Conroy on continuing bail and ordered that he face a retrial on two counts of sexual assault.
It is highly unusual for a Judge to stop a trial on the ground's that prosecution witnesses have been unfairly treated. Normally a Judge will only take that action, if the defence makes a case for unfairl treatment.
On 17 December 2004 after a three day trial, it took the jury less than two hours to deliver their unanimous verdict of non-guilty on two separate charges of sexual assault against Father Conroy.