Shatter promises 'careful' review of process for appointing judges

Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 00:00

The system of appointing judges is to be reviewed by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

"We must be careful how we do it," he said. "We need to ensure that, ultimately, there is accountability in this House for appointments made in the shape of a minister being accountable, as I am, on behalf of the Government."

Mr Shatter said there could not be a system whereby, as had been suggested elsewhere, existing members of the judiciary and representatives of the legal profession would themselves select the next lot of members of the judiciary because there would be no political democratic accountability of any nature.

"The difficulty with such lack of accountability . . . is that a particular group making appointments may appoint persons who they know better than others," he added.

Mr Shatter said he was looking forward to receiving the result of the departmental deliberations and would also consider suggestions made to him. He added that he was considering creating a consultative process.

The Minister was replying to Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who said his party had called for the reform of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, narrowing the numbers shortlisted for appointment. Mr Shatter said there should not be any suggestion that change was required to ensure the judiciary was independent.