Labour senator says judicial system discriminat es

 

Seanad Report: Mr Brendan Ryan (Lab) said it seemed to him that the judicial system operated on a basis which discriminated between those who were rich and those who were poor.

He said that on the previous day they had heard a plea that somebody should not go to prison because they had "fallen very far". He did not want to interfere with the judiciary in any way, but he did not believe that the other hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had made pleas for understanding before judges had gotten the same sort of hearing, the same sort of delay and the same sort of post-Christmas postponement.

Because they were poor, the law had operated differently for them. All over the court system in recent times siblings and parents would have pleaded with judges to understand the tragedies of their children's lives.

Mr John Minihan (PD) said he believed the remarks that had been made about the judiciary were dangerous and irresponsible. The judiciary should not be undermined by members of the House who accused them of double standards.

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Mr Shane Ross (Ind) insisted that the House be permitted to debate judicial appointments and "outrageous decisions by judges".

The Cathaoirleach, Mr Rory Kiely, said it was not their job to debate such appointments. "There is such a thing as separation of powers and we cannot be making charges. Appointments to the bench was a constitutional function of the government."

However, Mr Ross contended that it was the job of senators to debate the appointment of judges. There was nothing to forbid it, he maintained.

Told once more by the Cathaoirleach that this was not possible, he said that he would put down a motion on the issue.

Addressing the Cathaoirleach, he said: "I do not expect you to make a ruling forbidding discussion of the issue of political appointments and outrageous decisions by judges." He asked the leader of the House, Ms Mary O'Rourke, to provide time for such a discussion.

Ms O'Rourke said that these were Government appointments.

Mr Ross: "The Government is made up of politicians."

Ms O'Rourke responded that there was a judicial appointment's board which made recommendations to the Government. "I would like to make it clear that they are not political appointments; they are Government appointments."