The O'Flaherty affair


Sir, - There are huge lessons to be learned from the O'Flaherty affair. It is quite clear that the method of appointing judges should be changed dramatically. The illusion of the separation of government from judiciary has finally been fully uncovered. They are not separate. It seems to me that there are Fianna Fail judges, Fine Gael judges and Labour judges, but no Sinn Fein judges, no Green Party judges.

It's obvious that the first for qualification a barrister with ambitions to become a judge is to join a mainstream political party. This whole process is part of the golden circle.

No reasonable person could accept that when a new judges are appointed, they automatically forget their well-cultivated political allegiance and magically and instantly become independent and totally objective.

Judicial appointments should be removed entirely from the gift of Ministers. Judges, as well as directors of semi-State bodies, should be subject to the normal professional criteria of employment. There should be independent employment panels at which candidates can be cross-examined about their suitability. They should have contracts, they should be sackable, and all of this process should be transparent and accountable.

It's understandable that there's no criticism from Fine Gael for example, on some of these core issues, because they cannot wait to get into power to get their hands on this lucrative appointments gravy train.

It's no wonder that Dennis Riordan got such support - who else can the people turn to? Which political party will take up the challenge of cleaning up the whole appointments area? - Yours, etc.,

Michael O'Brien, The O'Brien Press, Victoria Road, Dublin 6.