Friday 15 December 2017

FG 'would have drained the Shannon' to remain in power after last election - says FF

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael would have "drained the Shannon" to remain in power after the last General Election, Fianna Fáil has claimed while hitting out at plans to reform judicial appointments.

Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan has claimed Enda Kenny did a deal on judges with Shane Ross despite knowing "decent members of Fine Gael" would not be supportive of it.

The Cabinet is today finalising details of the new judicial appointments process which will shift power away from the legal profession to a commission with a majority of lay members.

Mr Ross, who has for years criticised the political nature of judicial appointments, secured the change during the negotiations that led to the Programme for Government.

While the Transport Minster is the driving force behind the bill, it will be brought before the Dáil by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan tonight.

Fianna Fáil has vowed to oppose the bill but it is supported by Sinn Féin meaning that it is likely progress through the Dáil and Seanad before the summer recess.

"It always surprised me that Fine Gael claimed to be supportive of this bill. I can see why Shane Ross is supporting it. He’s mentioned it for a number of years. I understand in a way why Sinn Féin are supporting it but I could never understand why Fine Gael was supporting it," Mr O’Callaghan said ahead of the Dáil debate.

"Part of the reason must be that at the time it was agreed with the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fine Gael would have agreed to drain the Shannon in order to get back into government.

"I think most decent members of Fine Gael are not supportive of this proposal. I think they respect the judiciary when the judiciary speak out. Most ordinary members of Fine Gael are surprised that the Government isn’t listening to the judiciary."

He described the plan as "illogical".

"At present we have 11 people on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Five of them judges, three of them are lay people and it’s chaired by the Chief Justice. Under Minister Ross’s proposal we’re going to have a commission of 13 people, with three judges on it and seven lay people.

"It’s never been explained why there has been a reduction in relation to the judiciary on this and a contrast in the increase in lay people," Mr O’Callaghan said.

At a minimum, Fianna Fáil want the Chief Justice to chair the new commission and that the presidents of the five main courts sit on it.

Online Editors

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