Tuesday 16 January 2018

Shane Ross and top judge clash on reform

Minister for Transport Shane Ross.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

Philip Ryan and Wayne O'Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing a major headache as a serious confrontation threatens to break out between his Government and the judiciary.

Transport Minister Shane Ross last night said one of the country's most senior judges had "entered into the political arena" by criticising his Judicial Appointments Bill.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly had described the minister's reform of judicial appointments as "ill-advised" and "ill-conceived" at a Bar Association event on Friday.

The High Court President said the Government was pushing through legislation with "undue haste" compared to other laws which he believed should be prioritised.

Mr Justice Kelly's attack comes as the Dail this week prepares to debate the Bill aimed at bringing an end to political patronage in the appointment of judges.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Ross said he was "sorry" Mr Justice Kelly had "entered the political arena" with his comments on the Bill. "I have huge respect for Peter Kelly as a judge but he is mistaken in his belief that the Bill is being rushed," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar told the Pride parade in Dublin he would campaign for gay rights in Northern Ireland where the Democratic Unionist Party has resisted bids to hold a marriage equality referendum. He also said he would pressure world leaders to recognise gay rights.

"Our rights are under attack and I will use my office for as long as I have it to make that point to countries in international forums," he said.

It has also emerged Mr Varadkar does not intend to reprimand sacked Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor for her attack on a lack of diversity in his Government.

Sunday Independent

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