Cabinet agrees appointment of three judges despite Independent opposition

Ross tells ‘tense’ Cabinet meeting he expected Judicial Appointments Bill in Dáil next week

Minister Shane Ross: told Cabinet meeting he would not facilitate any more judicial appointment under ‘rotten system’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister Shane Ross: told Cabinet meeting he would not facilitate any more judicial appointment under ‘rotten system’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government has agreed to the appointment of three more judges despite strong opposition expressed by the Independent Alliance at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan secured Cabinet approval to make a number of appointments, including those of senior counsel Denis McDonald to the High Court, and solicitors Mary Cashin and Geraldine Carthy to the District Court.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has previously insisted the appointment of judges should not go ahead under the current system. However, a significant number have been approved by Cabinet, including the appointment of former attorney general Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal and the appointment of Frank Clarke as Chief Justice.

Ross told yesterday’s Cabinet meeting he would not facilitate any more judicial appointment under 'the rotten system'

In an interview with The Irish Times at Christmas, Mr Ross stressed he would not allow any to proceed without significant justification.

“A very good case” was made to Mr Ross by the Minister for Justice in recent days, a source said.

The Minister for Transport insisted on reforms to the judicial system being included in the Programme for Government, claiming the current system is too political.

‘Rotten system’

Mr Ross told yesterday’s Cabinet meeting he would not facilitate any more judicial appointment under “the rotten system”. He said he expected to see the Judicial Appointments Bill in the Dáil next week or, he warned, there would be “serious consequences”.

Several Ministers described the meeting as “very tense”.

Mr Ross was supported by Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath, who said reforms to judicial appointments were extremely important to the Independent Alliance.

In response, the Minister for Justice said he could not determine when the Bill would return to the Dáil as this was decided by the Oireachtas, not the Government.

The Bill, which reforms the manner in which appointments are made, has completed committee stage. A number of amendments were made to the Bill, and these are being examined by the Department of Justice.

Appointees

Mr McDonald, who was educated at TCD, was called to the Bar in 1986 and the Inner Bar in 2000, and practises primarily in commercial law as well as tax and planning law.

Ms Cashin and Ms Carthy were educated at NUIG. Ms Cashin was enrolled as a solicitor in 1979 and practises primarily in family law, including childcare proceedings.

Ms Carthy was enrolled as a solicitor in 2000 and practises primarily in family law as well as medical negligence, personal injuries and employment law.

The Cabinet agreed to proceed with the appointments but the Independent Alliance insisted it was now clear to Fine Gael that any future appointments will be dependant on the progress of the Bill.

A spokeswoman for the Independent Alliance said: “Any future delays in the Bill will be taken very seriously. Future judicial appointments cannot be taken for granted.”