Tuesday 28 March 2017

Political favouritism is no way to appoint top judges

The time has come to remove the power of judicial appointment from governments

ADVOCATES OF CHANGE: Left, Professor David Gwynn Morgan. Right, retired judge Michael Patwell. Photos: Donal Doherty and Patrick Hogan/Provision
ADVOCATES OF CHANGE: Left, Professor David Gwynn Morgan. Right, retired judge Michael Patwell. Photos: Donal Doherty and Patrick Hogan/Provision

Shane Ross

THIS weekend public confidence in the gardai hangs in the balance. The politically appointed chiefs at the top of the force are under scrutiny. Critics thunder that our addiction to political patronage dictates that top gardai are joined at the hip to the Government.

If top-level promotions in the gardai are too political the position of judges is worse. While only top gardai are appointed by the Government, all judges are chosen by party politicians. The potential for political favouritism is unlimited. Unhappily, that potential has been fulfilled in the Four Courts. In spades.

The judges themselves admit it. Two years ago the president of the Association of Judges, Peter Kelly, spilled the beans when he stated: "We all know . . . that people who would be excellent judicial appointments are passed over in favour of people who are not so well qualified."

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