Tuesday 25 September 2018

Varadkar not worried by critical report

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has rejected criticism of the Judicial Appointments Bill by the Council of Europe, insisting it will be passed before politicians take their summer break.

A report by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has warned that the proposed new system for appointing judges could be open to "improper influence" from political players. It criticises the fact a new appointments commission will have "strong lay representation", leaving judges in a minority.

But Mr Varadkar said the Cabinet disagrees with the assessment because the membership of the board "will be appointed in a transparent manner through the public service which really means that there won't be undue political interference".

The Bill, which is being pushed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, is currently before the Seanad which will hold an unscheduled debate on Monday.

Asked whether he believes it will pass before next week's summer recess, Mr Varadkar said: "That's certainly the plan."

Mr Ross also rejected the criticism, saying "I am confident that when GRECO sees the legislation and the new reforms in place, they will be satisfied that this new system improves transparency and removes any potential political interference in the process."

The Bill should pass as the Government has done a deal with Sinn Féin to ensure a majority of support.

Demand

Sinn Féin's justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire told the Irish Independent they support remains.

In return, ministers yesterday agreed to Sinn Féin's demand that they include sentencing guidelines in the forthcoming Judicial Council Bill.

The Association of Judges of Ireland welcomed the fact that GRECO called for Ireland to pass legislation in line with European standards.

They called on the Government to give "re-consideration" to the Bill.

Irish Independent

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