Friday 23 February 2018

Flanagan offers olive branch to end Government's row with judiciary

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A role for the presidents of the Circuit Court and District Court in the appointments of new judges may be approved as an olive branch aimed at defusing a row between the Government and the judiciary.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he understands some of the concerns raised by the judiciary in recent days over plans to overhaul the way judges are selected.

After "careful consideration" he told the Dáil there was merit in continuing to afford the presidents of each court a role in the selection of judges.

The move comes after the Association of Judges in Ireland (AJI) criticised the decision to have a new Judicial Appointments Commission compromising of a lay majority and a lay chairperson.

The Chief Justice and the presidents of the Court of Appeal and the High Court will be full Commission members but the AJI hit out at the fact "no member of either the District Court or the Circuit Court, which together deal with the overwhelming majority of cases to come before the courts, is to be a member of the commission".

However, opening the Dáil debate on the new system last night, Mr Flanagan said "it would appear to me to be desirable to meet this particular point".

Read More: O'Callaghan denies conflict of interest over the changes to way judges are appointed

He said that in the case of an appointment to the lower courts, the Commission could include the president of the relevant court be included in the process.

"So while all the Superior Court presidents including the Chief Justice are permanent members of the Commission… all presidents are to be part of the decision-making process in selecting and recommending persons for appointment to the relevant court," Mr Flanagan said.

Transport Minister Shane Ross, who secured the changes to the judicial system as part of his deal to enter the minority Government, sat beside Mr Flanagan while he made the opening statement.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was yesterday forced to deny reports that Mr Ross threatened to resign during one of two phone calls made last Sunday.

Irish Independent

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