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Sunday 19 November 2017

'Judiciary advocating reform, not fighting against it,' says leading judge

Chief Justice Susan Denham. Photo: Damien Eagers
Chief Justice Susan Denham. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Transport Minister Shane Ross has been slapped down by the country's leading judge in the row over reform of judicial appointments.

Chief Justice Susan Denham said the attitude of the judiciary to reform how they are appointed has been misrepresented.

The comments are believed to be a reference to remarks by Mr Ross, who said last week he believed there would be resistance from judges to a bill that would radically reform the appointments process.

Speaking at the National Judges Conference at the weekend, Ms Justice Denham said it was a fundamental principle that each of the "great organs of State owes respect to the other".

"Inaccurate discussion and misrepresentation of the position of the judiciary has been a feature of recent public discourse," she said.

"Amongst other factors, it is surprising that it has been stated that the judiciary are fighting change, when the opposite is the case.

"The judiciary have been advocating change, but it has not yet been advanced."

Ms Justice Denham said the judiciary had been asking for change for years and in 2014 made a submission to the Justice Department seeking a "merit-based" appointments process.

She said representatives of the judiciary met Mr Ross and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald last week.

The delegation was led by Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell of the Supreme Court.

"At this meeting minsters and officials were reminded of the long and ongoing efforts of the judiciary on the need for reform in the areas of judicial appointments and a judicial council," said Ms Justice Denham.

Ms Justice Denham also said Irish judges had backed a Europe-wide judicial network declaration in 2012, which stated the recruitment system should be independent of political influence, fair, and transparent in its selection procedure.

Irish Independent

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