Deadlock over judicial appointments comes to an end

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The deadlock over judicial appointments has come to an end following agreement at a Cabinet meeting to make necessary appointments under the existing system.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald secured agreement that three of six specialist judges of the Circuit Court will be reassigned as ordinary judges in order to deal with immediate shortages identified by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, president of the Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, the State will begin the process of filling District Court vacancies via the existing Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

The scheme of a bill to introduce a new judicial appointments commission, with a lay majority and a lay chair, will be prepared this week and published by the end of January at the latest.

The agreement is the result of a compromise between governing Fine Gael and its Independent Alliance coalition partner.

Independent TD and Government minister Shane Ross had promised that his Alliance would use its role in Government to block judicial appointments under the current system in order to force reform.

The controversial plan was called “disastrous” by leading judges and criticised by both The Bar of Ireland and the Law Society of Ireland.

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