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Saturday 20 September 2014

Kenny fires 'parting shot' at Shatter over justice stand-off

Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor

Published 02/06/2014 | 02:30

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Attorney General Maire Whelan, chairman of the Bar David Nolan, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Bar Council conference on Saturday.

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has fired what is being viewed as a parting shot at former justice minister Alan Shatter, telling the country's barristers that his replacement – Frances Fitzgerald – "is a very different personality".

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Mr Kenny personally ended a tense, three-year stand-off between the Government and the Bar Council of Ireland, the representative body for almost 2,500 barristers, when he attended its biennial conference in Westport last Saturday.

The conference, attended by Attorney General Maire Whelan and senior members of the judiciary, was opened on Friday night by Minister Fitzgerald.

The attendance by the Taoiseach and Justice Minister marked a new dawn in relations between the Government and the law library, who have been at odds over aspects of the 2011 Legal Services Regulation Bill, which is expected to finally pass later this year.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Kenny said that he was happy to engage with the Bar Council, adding that the Government would proceed with the "principle of structural change" and the establishment of a new Legal Services Regulatory Authority as set out in the bill.

Paying tribute to the new Justice Minister, he said Ms Fitzgerald was "a very different personality than the previous minister".

Mr Shatter turned down more than 30 invitations to meet with Senior Counsel David Nolan, the outgoing chairman of the Bar.

Mr Nolan revealed he had already held a lengthy meeting with Ms Fitzgerald, at which the pair "spoke about everything".

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, appealed to barristers to apply for judicial posts, despite cuts to judges' pay and pensions.

Judge Kearns was speaking ahead of the establishment of the new Court of Appeal, which could see the appointment of an unprecedented number of High Court judges.

Irish Independent

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