Government to fast-track Judicial Council Bill

The legislation’s passage has been accelerated due to the position of Shane Ross

 Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The Cabinet is to fast-track the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill due to Mr Ross’s position on the legislation. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The Cabinet is to fast-track the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill due to Mr Ross’s position on the legislation. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The Cabinet is to fast-track the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill this Dáil term.

The heads of the Bill are expected to be completed by the end of this month, with publication expected before the summer.

The passage of the legislation through the drafting process has been accelerated at the insistence of the Independence Alliance leader and Minister for Transport Shane Ross, who has made the issue his priority since joining the Cabinet.

The Bill is one of 31 Bills on the priority list announced by Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty.

However, despite the fact this Dáil session will last until the summer recess, at least half of the Bills on the list will not be published.

Some of the Bills are carry-overs, that is, they were on the priority list in the past but were never published.

Indeed, some are older pieces of legislation which were effectively shelved but have now been revived.

These include the Mediation Bill, which has been on the books since 2012, and the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill, which completed its pre-legislative scrutiny in 2013.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which would establish a Judicial Council to oversee judges’ conduct, has been on the priority list for the past four years.

Such a council was first proposed at Government-level more than 20 years ago.

Among the Bills to appear for the first time on the priority list is the Affordable Childcare Scheme Bill, which will give effect to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s affordable childcare scheme.

Another Bill would provide for the establishment of an office of ombudsman for financial services and pensions.

Minority status

The Government’s ability to enact new laws is limited because of its minority status and the composition of the Dáil.

Many of the Bills which have completed their passage in the 32nd Dáil are either non-contentious or of a technical nature.

However, there are some forthcoming Bills which will be widely welcomed.

They include a Bill to establish a scheme that would contribute towards transport costs for people on low incomes with severe disabilities.

There are also Bills which would provide medical cards to all children on the domiciliary care allowance and allow for the setting up of supervised injection facilities for intravenous drug users.

Another would provide a legal basis for the new Children’s Hospital, which will be located on the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Dublin.