Seán Ryan is a judge of the Irish High Court. As a barrister, he was Senior Counsel to the inquiry into abuse in the Catholic diocese of Ferns (the Ferns Report), and was chairman of the Compensation Advisory Committee that prepared guidelines on compensation to be paid to abuse survivors at the Residential Institutions Redress Board. In September 2003 Seán Ryan was selected to head the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse following the controversial resignation of the previous chair, Justice Mary Laffoy, who claimed her work had been systematically obstructed by the Department of Education. The government appointed him a High Court Judge, without seeking a recommendation from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, "to guarantee that the integrity and independence of the chairperson will be maintained. Justice Seán Ryan published the Commission's public report on 20 May 2009 and it was immediately hailed as "a work of incalculable value to this country" and praised for its "meticulous gathering of evidence", though "Justice has not been done as many of the abusers will never face the rigours of the law.