Tuesday 26 September 2017

Hysterical judges need to get off their high horse

Detestation of Shane Ross should not colour views on necessary changes, writes Dan O'Brien

'The shrill and sometimes hysterical reaction to the proposals by judges, barristers and their ilk is not only wrong-headed, it says a great deal about the preening self-regard of the lawyerly class.' (Getty/Stock)
'The shrill and sometimes hysterical reaction to the proposals by judges, barristers and their ilk is not only wrong-headed, it says a great deal about the preening self-regard of the lawyerly class.' (Getty/Stock)
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

On moving home after having spent almost all of my adult life abroad, two things surprised me about Ireland. The first was how careful Irish people are to avoid confrontation and causing offence to others, particularly in professional settings. The second was an all-pervasive legalism and deference to the lawyerly class.

Shane Ross never cared much about causing offence before becoming a minister. From his perch in this newspaper over the years he highlighted many important issues and as a member of the Oireachtas over decades he made valuable contributions to the committees on which he sat. But he frequently personalised issues unnecessarily in both of those roles. Not infrequently did he mock and belittle. Ross's modus operandi in those roles made him many enemies and it is striking how many people loathe him, including people who have never been personally affected by his comments and actions. Since he took ministerial office his legions of detractors have been giving him doses of his own medicine at every opportunity.

For this, he has nobody to blame but himself. What goes around comes around, particularly in a society that is uncomfortable with plain speaking and personalising contention. But none of that means that all of the things he is trying to achieve are wrong. Nor does it mean that some of the criticism he has come in for is as unfair as some of the criticism he doled out to others over the years.

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