In an unusual move, parties unite to call for Yes vote on appeals court

Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin say reform is in public interest

Minister for State for Health Alex White; Minister for Justice Alan Shatter; Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin; and Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghail and on the steps of the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson.

Minister for State for Health Alex White; Minister for Justice Alan Shatter; Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin; and Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghail and on the steps of the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson.

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 01:17


The four main parties have jointly called for a Yes vote in the referendum on a Court of Appeal.

In an unusual move, senior figures from Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin issued a statement yesterday urging voters to approve the proposal to create a court between the High and Supreme courts.

They said a Yes vote was in the public interest and would address the “serious situation” of the four-year backlog of appeals waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court.

The statement was signed by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, Minister for State for Health Alex White, Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghail and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin.

Advocates say the new court is vital to address the bottleneck at the Supreme Court which, unlike equivalent courts in other common law countries, hears all appeals from the High Court.

There are presently 660 appeals awaiting hearing.

‘Overwhelmed’
“Our Supreme Court is overwhelmed by the volume of appeals coming before it,” the statement read. In other countries with similar legal systems, the politicians said, the supreme court hears only appeals in cases of significant public importance or which involve complex legal issues.

Critics of the proposed court say it is unnecessary and that the backlog could be cleared if the Supreme Court changed its work practices and became more efficient.

The Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, has described the proposal as a “crude device” that will lead to a rise in appeals.