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Omagh dentist appointed new High Sheriff of Tyrone

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Omagh dentist appointed new High Sheriff of Tyrone thumbnailBarry McGonigle

Omagh dentist, Barry McGonigle, has been appointed the new High Sheriff of County Tyrone. The announcement, which was made on Friday, means he takes over the role from the outgoing sheriff, Mrs Jennifer Hawkes, former Tyrone Farming Society chairperson, who is also from the Omagh area.

Mr McGonigle said he was pleased and honoured to accept the appointment by the Secretary of State and added he saw it both as a reflection on his profession and community.

The new High Sheriff holds the unique distinction of being a past president of both the Northern Ireland and British Dental Associations. He has run a dental practice on the Mountjoy Road, Omagh, for almost 40 years. It was initially set up by his father, Donal, many years beforehand.

Married to Finola, the couple have four children, Rachael, Donal, David and Alex.

Although Mr McGonigle has now retired from clinical dentistry, he continues to manage his practice. Outside his work Mr McGonigle is involved with the local branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society, enjoys travelling and spending time with his family.

He said he was honoured to accept the appointment, which is now mainly a ceremonial role.

However, the Sheriff does still hold a number of rights and duties, including receiving any members of the Royal Family, heads of state or High Court judges who visit Tyrone.

The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 allowed for the appointment of High Sheriffs in Northern Ireland. In 1900 Sir James Henderson was the first to take on the position in the newly created County Borough of the City of Belfast, followed by Otto Jaffe in 1901.

There are eight sheriffs in Northern Ireland; one for each county, and one for each county borough, ie. the cities of Derry and Belfast.

Here, the appointment is officially made by the Secretary of State on behalf of the Queen. The incoming High Sheriff is then officially notified by letter and is sent a warrant of appointment signed by the Secretary of State and a 'declaration of sheriff', which has to be sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths at an official ceremony.

Mr McGonigle said he was looking forward to his year in office.

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