Monday 15 July 2019

Ross faces flak from within as senators slam 'insulting, cynical' judges bill and praise McDowell's delay tactics


Senator Catherine Noone. Picture: Collins
Senator Catherine Noone. Picture: Collins

Hugh O'Connell

A majority of Fine Gael senators have come out against Transport Minister Shane Ross's proposals to overhaul how judges are appointed.

Ten of Fine Gael's 19 senators have told the Irish Independent they either do not agree with the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill or want it amended.

The bill has been stuck in the Seanad for a year and there is mounting frustration in Fine Gael with the more than 100 hours of debate it has taken up, as well as the bill's provisions.

It will establish a new judicial appointments body with a lay majority and lay chair - something many in the party oppose. Senator Paudie Coffey said the law will hand the appointment of judges to "an unelected commission of bureaucrats".

Seanad deputy leader Catherine Noone described the bill as "cynical".

Senators Colm Burke, John O'Mahony and Maura Hopkins all said there is nothing wrong with the current system of Government appointments.

Fine Gael's Seanad justice spokesman Martin Conway suggested that the lay majority provision should be changed, while Mayo senator Paddy Burke said the bill is "eating up so much time and going nowhere".

Three other Fine Gael senators privately voiced concerns, with one saying it was "an insult and totally out of order".

Another said former justice minister Michael McDowell has done an "amazing job" by tabling amendments to slow its progress through the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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