Friday 20 October 2017

Appointing judges used to be hands-on affair for Taoiseach

The rationale for having a journalistic privilege is based on the fact that a free press cannot thrive without being able to assure contacts that their identities will not be disclosed (Stock photo)
The rationale for having a journalistic privilege is based on the fact that a free press cannot thrive without being able to assure contacts that their identities will not be disclosed (Stock photo)

Hugh O'Flaherty

With all the recent commotion about the appointment of judges, it is worth reflecting on a time when governments took decisions without the advice or help of various boards.

Mr Justice Brian Walsh recounted in an interview which he gave to the authors of a book, 'Judging the World', in 1988 that when the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, offered him the appointment to the Supreme Court in 1961, he said he would just like to mention one thing - he would never again refer to it - but he would like the Supreme Court to become more like the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Walsh said: "So I pointed out to him there were certain differences. But that was his general idea ... he said much the same thing to the new Chief Justice, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. Obviously it was (his) wish that the court would be more active in its interpretative role.

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