Thursday 22 August 2019

Ross full of 'venom' in book criticising judge selections

Shane Ross has come in for criticisms for his remarks. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Shane Ross has come in for criticisms for his remarks. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Shane Ross was scathing in his criticism of how judges were appointed in a book that former justice minister Michael McDowell has claimed exhibited "venom" towards the judiciary.

Mr Ross co-wrote 'The Untouchables - The people who helped wreck Ireland - and are still running the show', along with his son-in-law, journalist Nick Webb, in 2012.

The book contains a 52-page chapter: 'The Judges: JAABs for the Boys - How the Judiciary Win Their Wigs'. The chapter's title is a play on the name of the current body that selects judges - the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB).

After a lengthy description of the political links of several judges, it concludes: "Judges are still being promoted and picked on the basis of cronyism and political colour. The abuse is stronger than ever."

The writers agree with an unnamed Fianna Fáil senator who told them the system is the "best racket" in Irish politics.

They add: "Phoney remedies, like the JAAB, have provided camouflage for political patronage. The fundamental problem of cronyism has not been tackled. The citadel is as strong as it ever was."

The book was singled out for criticism by Senator McDowell.

He is against Mr Ross's proposals to replace the JAAB with a new body whose membership would have a majority of non- legal professionals. Mr McDowell told RTÉ Radio that having a lay majority is "futile" adding, "you need professionals to do the job". He argued that the role of political affiliation in the selection of judges has "never been a significant problem" and said the "great majority" of appointees to the superior courts during his time as minister were not affiliated to the parties in government at the time.

He accused Mr Ross of pursuing a "personal agenda" in his campaign on judicial appointments and cited the book - that he incorrectly stated was called 'The Scrougers' - saying: "Look at the venom towards the judiciary which he exhibits in it." Mr McDowell also said: "The judiciary, no matter what else you say, did not ruin this country."

Mr Ross didn't respond directly to Mr McDowell's remarks. Last night he said: "I fully understand the resistance to reform from the strong legal lobby, however I look forward to a group of non-political, independent citizens working with judges, to select people suitable for such important positions."

Irish Independent

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