Sunday 22 April 2018

Judges Bill is 'complete dog's dinner', claims AG

Shane Ross
Shane Ross
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Major reforms to the way judges are appointed have been described as a "complete dog's dinner" by the Attorney General.

In a rare public statement, Séamus Woulfe suggested the Judicial Appointments Bill has been seriously undermined by Opposition TDs.

It is the pet project of Transport Minister Shane Ross, who has threatened to block the selection of new judges unless the bill is prioritised.

The legislation seeks to significantly reduce the political and legal influence over appointments by setting up a body with a non-legal majority and a non-legal chairperson.

Mr Woulfe, who is the Government's legal adviser, said: "A whole myriad of amendments they made now make the bill a complete dog's dinner at the moment.

"A number of the amendments were contradictory and inconsistent, and unconstitutional. Therefore that makes it a challenge to get the bill to report stage very soon."

His comments at an Association of European Journalists lunch will spark alarm in Government and Opposition.

Earlier this week, there were frank exchanges at Cabinet when Mr Ross expressed strong reservations about the appointment of three new judges.

The minister warned that he will not allow further promotions unless he sees progress on getting the bill passed.

Mr Woulfe said: "I'm sure under our new politics a deal will be done involving various Government ministers and Opposition parties.

"We await with interest over the next few days how that will pan out."

Irish Independent

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