Irish Times view on the Judicial Appointments Bill

It is time to go back to the drawing board even if that provokes the resignation of Shane Ross

It is an open secret that many Fine Gael TDs and senators have serious concerns about the judicial appointments Bill but feel bound by the commitment to Ross included in the programme for government.

It is an open secret that many Fine Gael TDs and senators have serious concerns about the judicial appointments Bill but feel bound by the commitment to Ross included in the programme for government.

 

It is still not too late for the Government to scrap the ill-advised Judicial Appointments Bill being foisted on the country at the whim of Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

The Bill is bogged down in the Seanad because of a rearguard action led by former attorney general Michael McDowell. Ross has accused opposing Senators of representing vested interests “who will stop at nothing to frustrate democratic decisions” but they are entirely within their rights to use all available parliamentary means to scrutinise a deeply flawed piece of legislation.

It is an open secret that many Fine Gael TDs and Senators have serious concerns about the Bill but feel bound by the commitment to Ross included in the programme for government.

The main feature of the Bill is the replacement of the current Judicial Appointments Advisory Board with a new body designed specifically with an inbuilt majority of people with no legal experience.

Ross insists that this is designed to remove political interference from the appointment of judges but it will do no such thing. It will simply mean that the recommendations for appointment to the judiciary will be made by a body which does not have the necessary expertise or experience to make informed recommendations.

The final decision on appointments will still be made by the Government, as required by the Constitution, but it will be restricted to the candidates recommended by the new body.

There is certainly an argument for improving the judicial appointments process but this Bill was drafted on the basis of no serious research, analysis or international comparisons. Significantly, the Government has not proved that the current system has been producing bad judges, or that the system is as “rotten” as Ross claims.

It is about time that the Fine Gael majority in the Cabinet acted in the national interest and instructed Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to go back to the drawing board. Such a move might provoke Ross to resign from Cabinet but so be it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.