Judicial appointments and controversy


Sir, – The Chief Justice is quoted in The Irish Times as saying “members of the judiciary are not expected to get involved in controversy” (June 21st).

I think recusing one’s self from a patently flawed nomination process would be a good place to start. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.

Sir, – Earlier this month the Tánaiste introduced legislation to establish a new Judicial Appointments Commission. She claims this legislation will “underpin public confidence and guarantee the quality of our judicial system is maintained”.

This week Cabinet members descended into a remarkably vindictive and public argument in the Dáil on the ability of Máire Whelan, one week after they had recommended her appointment to the Court of Appeal at a Cabinet meeting behind closed doors.

The Tánaiste’s promises for this legislation ring somewhat hollow in light of this week’s events. Oireachtas debates on this important legislation must be scrutinised closely.

Last year the Judicial Appointments Commission of England and Wales conducted a selection process for appointing judges to their high court. Selection criteria were drafted by psychologists, selection panels were convened and interviews were hosted, culminating in the appointment of eight judges to 14 available vacancies.

Perhaps we could learn from our neighbours across the Irish Sea? – Yours, etc,


Lecturer in Law,

Dublin Institute

of Technology,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Whatever the rights and wrongs of the procedures used in appointing Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal, the public disparagement of her competence and experience by Micheál Martin is outrageous (“Maire Whelan is no Frank Clarke, is no Adrian Hardiman and is no Donal O’Donnell”, June 21st).

It seems that the cliché to “Play the man, not the ball” does not apply to women.

With the apparent acceptability of this kind of public humiliation by the leader of Fianna Fáil, is it any wonder that many women are unwilling to put themselves forward? – Yours, etc,


Professor Emeritus

of Sociology

and Social Policy,

Department of Sociology ,

University of Limerick.

Sir, – The current debate in the Leinster House bubble about yet another legal appointment is not of public interest, contrary to what those bubble-dwellers might think. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.