Friday 20 September 2019

Flanagan promises to 'play by Seanad rules' over judicial bill row

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has indicated he will not try to have legislation on the appointment of judges guillotined in the Seanad again.

The Government was accused of trying to "pull a stunt" last week when it sought to terminate debate on the Judicial Appointments Bill on the day US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Leinster House.

Senators have spent more than 88 hours on the legislation, which is being pursued as part of the price for Independent Alliance Minister Shane Ross's participation in government.

In that time, only 95 of 149 amendments have been dealt with amid accusations that the filibuster is aimed at delaying the legislation until a general election. The attempt to apply the guillotine was defeated by two votes.

Mr Flanagan has now told the Irish Independent he is prepared to "play by the Seanad rules".

"I am concerned that we seem to be going round in circles there, but I accept the decision and am fully ready to give the bill and its amendments the time required to pass through the Houses," he said.

The minister added that he remains "fully committed" to passing the legislation, which will establish a new body with a lay chairperson to select judges for appointment.

Addressing the Seanad last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar questioned whether it was the biggest issue facing senators.

He said if the Seanad wanted "to give more time to this particular issue" than housing, health or climate change "that is the decision of the House and members must be accountable for it".

Mr Varadkar said he never used the guillotine as a minister, but said "there will be occasions where a minority may try to block the view of the majority and that is not democratic either".

Sinn Féin supported the use of the guillotine on the judicial bill, but it was opposed by Fianna Fáil and most Independents, including Michael McDowell and David Norris.

Irish Independent

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