Saturday 10 December 2016

Politics must be removed from 'rotten' system of appointing judges

Reforms have loosened the grip of the politicians, but have also strengthened the hands of lawyers

Shane Ross

Published 06/11/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail TD and barrister Jim O'Callaghan Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail TD and barrister Jim O'Callaghan Photo: Tom Burke

Their lordships are under siege. No one retaliates more politically than Ireland's "non-political" judges. Ten days ago, Fianna Fail TD and barrister Jim O'Callaghan introduced a Bill changing the way we elect our judges. All speakers, including myself, welcomed the initiative. Jim the barrister had shown bottle. He was trying to change the way we appoint our judges. He even admitted (what we all already knew) that many judges had been appointed because of their political affiliations.

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Jim's Bill was strongly supported by fellow barristers Willie Penrose (Labour) and by Fianna Fail's James Browne. The Law Library was cheering for the new Bill. They wanted to remove the appointment of judges from the political arena. Bravo.

Three years ago, Jim's Fianna Fail, Willie's Labour and Fine Gael had voted down a Bill I had proposed, radically changing the way we appoint our judges. No party was prepared to give it as much as a second reading.

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