Elizabeth Dunne to chair Referendum Commission

Vote on Court of Appeal to be held in October

High Court judge Elizabeth Dunne has been nominated to chair the Referendum Commission for the autumn ballot on a Court of Appeal.

Judge Dunne, who was nominated for the role by Chief Justice Susan Denham, will oversee the five-person commission who standing members are the Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy; Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly; the clerk of the Dáil, Kieran Coughlan; and the clerk of the Seanad, Deirdre Lane.

The body is charged with preparing and publishing a statement containing a general explanation of the referendum proposal, promoting awareness of the ballot and encouraging the electorate to vote.

If approved by referendum in October, the proposal would bring about a major change in the courts system by creating a new intermediate appeals court between the High and Supreme Courts.


The new court would hear most appeals from the High Court and ease the four-year backlog of cases at the Supreme Court, which would in future take only appeals on constitutional issues or cases of major importance.

Under a draft law published this week, the president of the new court would become an ex officio member of the Council of State and would be the substitute for the Chief Justice on the Presidential Commission, a three-member body that takes over the functions of the president when the office is vacant or the head of state is unavailable.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times