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'It's not our job to be popular' - all 168 judges form new Judicial Council of Ireland

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All 168 of Ireland's judges have come together for the first time to mark the establishment of the new Judicial Council of Ireland.

The Council, which was first sought 20 years ago, will deal with the training and conduct of judges, along with sentencing and personal injury guidelines.

The importance of the independence of the judiciary was emphasised in the opening statement by Chief Justice Frank Clarke at Kings Inns in Dublin 7 this morning.

"In an increasingly complex legal environment, with much greater pressures than have applied in the past, maintaining the highest standards of excellence becomes a greater challenge," he said.

"By doing all this, the Judicial Council can play a vital role in promoting the excellence for which we all strive.

"I think it is fair to say that Ireland has been a state where the rule of law has broadly been respected, and where the independence of the judiciary, which is a vital ingredient of respect for the rule of law, has been supported," he said.

Mr Clarke added that the council will be in a position to authoritatively assert judicial independence and respect for the rule of law, should it ever come under threat.

"I also think that it is fair to say that the Irish judiciary has observed high standards and has broadly commanded public respect.

"It would be impossible to expect that the public, or indeed the parties to litigation, would agree with every decision that every judge takes.

"It is the job of judges, under the Constitution, to administer justice, and thereby come to a fair decision in accordance with those laws which are enacted by the Oireachtas.

"We do justice, but we also do it in accordance with law. Not every result will, therefore, be popular. But it is not our job to be popular, but rather to do justice in accordance with law."

The website www.judicialcouncil.ie will go live today, but access to certain areas will be restricted to specific users.

Online Editors