Thursday 23 November 2017

Tánaiste sparks furious row by blocking FF's judicial bill

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald stalled Fianna Fáil’s reform bill. Photo: Arthur Carron
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald stalled Fianna Fáil’s reform bill. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A major row has broken out between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil after Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald invoked a rarely used section of the Constitution to stall Jim O'Callaghan's judicial reform bill.

The Government had allowed it pass through the Dáil only for Ms Fitzgerald to block its progress at committee stage, leading to a furious row.

Both sides have accused each other of "pulling a stroke", with Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers describing the situation as "a dark day for what this partnership Government is supposed to be about".

Mr O'Callaghan's bill on the appointment of judges was due to be debated by the Justice Committee yesterday but required Taoiseach Enda Kenny to send a 'money message' approving its discussion. This is standard procedure when proposed legislation has financial implications and is usually a formality.

However, Ms Fitzgerald said this did not happen because she believed Fianna Fáil was trying to rush through the bill without pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Government is currently compiling its own legislation on judicial appointments, which is expected to be finalised by January.

Government sources said Mr O'Callaghan was trying to "ram through" his bill, having initially said he would expect it to be back in the Dáil for further debate in January.

Ms Fitzgerald said they had a "common objective", but what Fianna Fáil was doing "doesn't smack of new politics to me".

Mr O'Callaghan said the Government's approach "smacks of arrogant Fine Gael politics".

"Fine Gael party pride is being put ahead of the need to do the right thing," he said.

Irish Independent

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