Saturday 24 February 2018

Judges have no right to appoint other judges – Taoiseach insists

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has strongly defended a new law fundamentally changing how judges are appointed.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, strongly criticised the new legislation due before the Dáil today.  He challenged the Taoiseach to publish details of an unprecedented warning letter sent to him by the five heads of the country’s courts.

Mr Martin was also scathingly critical of comments by Independent Alliance Minister, Shane Ross, whose comments were seriously damaging to the reputation of the judiciary.  He also argued that it was planned to “ram the bill through” the Dáil with no real debate.

“We need to be very careful as a Dáil how we treat the judiciary,” the Fianna Fáil leader warned.  He also compared the internal Fine Gael-Independent Alliance deal on the legislation with the Democratic Unionist Party deal done with the British Conservatives.

But the Taoiseach hit back and said the changes were in line with best international practice.  “This is about bringing us into the modern world,” Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

The Taoiseach said in no other walk of life were professional people allowed the major say in who was appointed to their ranks. He said the proposed Judicial Appointments Bill’s terms were in line with practice in England and Scotland.

Mr Varadkar rejected DUP deal comparisons saying this was government-backed legislation contained in the Programme for Government.

“No profession should be self-regulating or self-appointing,” Mr Varadkar said.

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