Bill on judicial appointments unlikely to pass in current form

Charlie Flanagan says final vote on proposed Bill may be delayed until October

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said he cannot be certain the proposed Bill on a judicial appointments commission will pass in its current form.

Mr Flanagan confirmed to the Fine Gael parliamentary party that the Bill was unlikely to pass before the summer recess and may be delayed until October.

This follows the refusal of the Oireachtas committee on justice to consider the Bill next week. The Dáil adjourns on July 14th for its summer recess.

Committee members, including chairman Caoimhghín Ó’Caoláin, expressed concern that the legislation was being rushed through without appropriate scrutiny.

Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace said he wanted to hear from witnesses on the issue before proceeding.

“This has the potential to be a complete disaster if it is not done properly. We cannot be rushed into a decision to keep one member of Government happy,” he said. “What good legislation ever came from a guillotine being imposed?”

Sinn Féin members of the committee, who support the Bill, confirmed they would not vote in favour of progressing the legislation at this pace.

The passing of the Bill was a commitment made to Minister for Transport Shane Ross by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after the appointment of the former attorney general Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

The Bill provides for the establishment of a new judicial appointments commission with 11 members. It will have a lay chair and a lay majority.

The Government has the support of Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and Solidarity.

Mr Flanagan told the parliamentary party this was a minority Government and it could not guarantee how other parties would vote on this Bill. He insisted he would not rush it through and therefore could not guarantee its passage by the summer break.

Mr Flanagan claimed the judiciary had been consulted throughout the process but accepted their unhappiness at the content of the legislation.