| 6.1°C Dublin

Judges' job is to do justice - popularity is not an issue, says Clarke

Close

Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Chief Justice Frank Clarke told judges it is not their job to be popular, but rather to do justice in accordance with the law.

At the launch of the new Judicial Council of Ireland, Mr Clarke stressed it would be impossible to expect the public to agree with every decision every judge took.

"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," he said. "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.

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

The council, first mooted 20 years ago, will deal with the training and conduct of judges, along with sentencing and personal injury guidelines.

Speaking to all 168 members of the judiciary, from the district court to the Supreme Court, at Kings Inns in Dublin yesterday, Chief Justice Clarke emphasised the importance of the judiciary's independence.

"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 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 the council would be in a position to authoritatively assert judicial independence and respect for the rule of law should it ever come under threat.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the council would play a crucial role in ensuring the high level of public confidence in our judiciary.

"This provision will go a long way to reassuring all of us that not only is justice being done, but it is being seen to be done, all of the time," he said.

"The council will also focus on the introduction of mechanisms for dealing with complaints against judges.

"It was a great personal privilege for me, as Minister for Justice and Equality, to have introduced this important legislation and I am confident the council will play a crucial role in ensuring the high level of public confidence in our judiciary and will maintain the high standards of excellence for which our judiciary is renowned the world over.

"I have every confidence that this will be carried out diligently and to the highest standards," he said.

Irish Independent