Saturday 21 September 2019

Senators go on Christmas holidays early after voting to cancel planned debate on judicial appointments

Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Tom Burke
Senator Gerard Craughwell. Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Senators have voted to cancel a scheduled debate on judicial appointments legislation and go on their Christmas holidays early.

Senators were listed to discuss legislation on reforming how judges are appointed but instead voted to cancel the debate and close the Seanad for the festive season.

The Seanad will not reopen for business until 2.30pm on January 22.

The vote to close down the chamber early was proposed by Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell and supported by 24 other senators, including members of Fianna Fail and the Labour Party. Fine Gael and Sinn Fein senators voted to hold the debate.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was prepared to take part in the scheduled four hour debate on judicial appointment legislation which has so far been debated in the Seanad for more than 70 hours.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Flanagan said: “While I’m obviously disappointed, I recognise the Seanad sets its priorities and my party Fine Gael doesn’t enjoy a majority in either house.”

Mr Craughwell said he put down the motion to cancel the debate because he believes the "bill is deeply flawed".

"Rushing it through would be an injustice to our judiciary who have served us well," he said.

"I don't detect any public interest in the bill and the interest from the political system is fairly week," he added.

The legislation, which has been championed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, will see the establishment of a new judicial appointment body overseen by a non-legal chairperson. There will also be a lay majority on the board of the organisation.

Senators have faced accusations of filibustering over the lengthy debates on the legislation which is a commitment in the Programme for Government.

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