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Saturday 17 February 2018

Judicial watchdog planned by Tánaiste

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald Picture by Fergal Phillips
Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald Picture by Fergal Phillips
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Legislation for a long-awaited judicial council, which would investigate allegations of misconduct by judges, is to be published by November.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said a Judicial Council Bill would provide for a body to promote excellence and high standards, as well as having an investigative function.

Her comments, made in a Seanad speech, come just weeks after Chief Justice Susan Denham criticised the failure of successive governments to put in place a judicial watchdog.

Ms Justice Denham said a judicial council had been proposed 20 years ago and the lack of one was damaging Ireland's reputation internationally.

Ms Fitzgerald also told the Seanad a new system for appointing judges was "a priority for the Government".

However, she said significant work and consultation was still needed before a new Judicial Appointments Commission Bill is published.

There is currently one vacancy in the Supreme Court, two vacancies in the Circuit Court and one vacancy in the District Court. There are also two pending vacancies, one in each of the Circuit Court and the District Court.

Last month, Transport Minister Shane Ross said no new appointments would be made until the bill has been passed, describing the current system as "an outlet for political patronage".

However, Ms Fitzgerald appeared to leave the door open to existing judicial vacancies being filled before the new appointments process is in place.

"The requirements of the administration of justice will be the overriding priority for the Government over the period ahead," she said.

Irish Independent

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