Frank Durkan (1930 - 2006)
law firm O'Dwyer and Bernstein hosted an event to honor Frank Durkan for his
50th anniversary of being called to the bar.
Campbell of the Irish Center in Long Island City gave the blessing and described
Co. Mayo native Durkan as a “wonderful gift” to the Irish American community,
and that “only God could know how much Frank has done in the service of others.”
Brian O’Dwyer revealed that the law firm had looked long and hard for a fitting
way in which to honor Durkan, even considering endowing a new training facility
for the Mayo football team.
said, they finally settled on endowing a fellowship in human rights at the City
University of New York’s Law School, “as it would probably do a lot more good
than any training facility for Mayo! That would be throwing good money after
bad!” O’Dwyer laughed.
read out congratulation messages from New York Senator Hillary Clinton, which
came in the form of a Senate resolution, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That’s
the great maturity of Frank Durkan,” said O’Dwyer. “Even the Republicans like
described some of Durkan’s greatest successes, including the Fort Worth Five
case, who were jailed for contempt in Texas for refusing to cooperate with a
grand jury investigating an alleged gun-running operation between Mexico and
Ireland. The five were released by order of Supreme Court Justice William O.
Douglas, who determined that the U.S. government was illegally eavesdropping on
telephone conversations between Durkan and his clients.
led the defense of Desmond Mackin, who defeated Britain’s extradition request in
1981, and he gained international headlines in his successful defense of George
Harrison, one of the Brooklyn Five, in 1982. Michael Flannery, Tom Falvey, Donal
Gormley and Pat Mullin were the other members of the Brooklyn Five. All were
then-Newsday column last October headlined “Singular Irishman Bids Farewell to
the World,” Jimmy Breslin related the following tale involving Durkan’s defense
of the activist George Harrison, who died last year.
been accused of running guns and, as the case proceeded in federal court in
Brooklyn, the prosecutor told the jury that Harrison had been running guns out
of this city for the last six months.
outraged. His lawyer, Durkan, rose and told the judge, “Your honor, the
prosecutor has just charged my client with running guns for six months. My
client is deeply insulted. Mr. Harrison has been running guns for the last 25
years at least.” Harrison was acquitted.
attended Columbia University in New York and completed his law degree at New
York Law School. His work has included an array of negligence and malpractice
cases in addition to his extensive civil rights work.
his wife Monica are active members of New York’s Mayo Society and the Mayo
Frankdied on November 16, 2006, aged 76, in
Greenwich, Connecticut from complications from
pulmonary fibrosis. He was survived by his wife, Monica, two
daughters, Mary Louise and Aisling, a son-in-law, Stead, and two grandchildren,
Brian and Declan.