AG wrote to Chief Justice last month on communication issues, Taoiseach reveals
Opposition criticism in Dail of Minister for Justice’s role in row with judiciary
Taoiseach Enda Kenny: said he did not accept that arrangements for communication had been withdrawn.
The Attorney General had written to the Chief Justice on matters relating to communications with the judiciary last month, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil.
He said this had followed a meeting on March 7th between the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and representatives of the Department of Justice. The letter, he said, dealt with keeping the lines of communication open and maintaining the relationship between the judiciary and the Government as it should be.
“I am happy to facilitate that continuing engagement,’’ said Mr Kenny.
The Taoiseach said he did not accept that the arrangements for communication, both formal and informal, had been withdrawn, suspended or had ceased. The judiciary’s absolute independence would be maintained by the Government, he added.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there was an “unprecedented, unseemly and nasty row’’ under way between the Government and the judiciary which went to the very heart of the democratic system. He claimed there was a breakdown in communication between the Government, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and the judiciary.
“Quite a number of senior judges have sincerely articulated their deep concerns about trends and initiatives that have been undertaken by the Minister,’’ he added. “I put it to the Taoiseach that it is unacceptable to attempt to demonise the members of the judiciary, to undermine them, their status and their role and to do that on a false basis, which has occurred in recent days.’’
Independence of judges
Mr Kenny said it was the Government’s firm view that the effective operation of the judicial system, of which independence in the exercise of its duty was fundamental and central to democracy, was of critical importance and one that clearly continued.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said there was no doubt that the row between the Minister and the judges was unprecedented and unnecessary, but the Taoiseach seemed to be choosing to look the other way.
“Despite what the Taoiseach has said here this afternoon, the judges say that communication has broken down and they attribute this very directly to Deputy Shatter’s way of doing business,’’ she added.