Nominations will give Supreme Court highest number of judges


THE Government has nominated three sitting High Court judges for appointment by the President to the Supreme Court.

The nomination of Mr Justice Ronan Keane, Mr Justice Frank Murphy and Mr Justice Kevin Lynch will bring the size of the Supreme Court to eight, the biggest in the history of the State.

The Government has also nominated Judge Michael Moriarty, currently in the Circuit Court, for appointment to the High Court.

Two leading senior counsel, Mr Peter Shanley and Mr Peter Kelly, have also been nominated for the High Court.

Mr Shanley, a former chairman and vice chairman of the Bar Council, has been practising for 23 years. He was called to the Inner Bar in 1982.

Mr Kelly, who has been practising for 21 years, was a clerical officer with the ESB and became a junior clerk in the central office of the High Court. He is one of two senior counsel leading the referendum petition being taken by Mr Des Hanafin in a challenge to the results of the divorce referendum.

The Supreme Court and High Court appointments were made under the Court and Court Officers Act passed last December. The judges nominated yesterday who were not already members of the judiciary were recommended by the new Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

Under the new proposals, the increase in judges will allow the Supreme Court to sit in divisions' of five and three judges so that two appeals can be heard simultaneously.

Once the new Supreme Court deals with the backlog of civil appeals, it is proposed to abolish the Court of Criminal Appeal and transfer its jurisdiction to the Supreme Court.

Seven new Circuit Court judges and three new District Court judges are also due to be appointed under the new legislation.

The chairman of the Bar Council, Mr James Nugent, said the appointments to the Supreme Court were a very welcome development which would help ease the backlog of cases.