Wednesday 13 December 2017

Whelan situation leaves Ross in choppy waters

The Transport Minister has wandered from his brief and broken Cabinet ranks over the controversy, writes Eoin O'Malley

IN FOCUS: Minister for Transport Shane Ross opens the door of the first tram to run on the Luas Cross City tram test at O’Connell St, Dublin, yesterday. Picture: Maxwells
IN FOCUS: Minister for Transport Shane Ross opens the door of the first tram to run on the Luas Cross City tram test at O’Connell St, Dublin, yesterday. Picture: Maxwells

Eoin O'Malley

Shane Ross had a big win recently. After almost a year of blocking judicial appointments, three weeks ago the Government approved and published the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which included all the elements of a change to the judicial appointments system that Ross wanted and which could be delivered without a referendum. He also got a Judicial Council Bill, which would provide a code of conduct for judges, and procedures to enable complaints to be considered.

The Independent Alliance's de facto leader doesn't appear to like judges. For years he's railed against them and the system that perpetuates what he sees as party patronage and cronyism. The system he hates has actually produced (or at least not prevented the production of) one of the most independent judiciaries in the world.

While many of our senior judges have been associated with the political parties that appointed them, there is no evidence to suggest that on the bench they behave in a partisan way. I can say this without fear of contradiction because in research I did with some colleagues in DCU, we found no cases where Fianna Fail-appointed judges made judgments in opposition to the Fine Gael-appointed judges on the bench. In fact, in over 90pc of decisions, the judges were in complete agreement.

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