Independent Senator threatens to take judicial appointments bill to court
The controversial bill to reform the system of judicial appointments in the State faces new obstacles after an independent Senator pledged to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell told The Sunday Times: “If President Higgins doesn’t refer it to the Supreme Court - and I think he will - I will take a case to the court.”
He added: “I don’t think there would be a problem finding members of the Bar who would take the case on a no-foal, no-fee basis.”
The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill has been held up in the Seanad since last June, despite Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan originally hoping it would clear the chamber by last July.
Senator Craughwell said he thinks it is “highly feasible we can hold the bill until Easter”, and likened his approach to “filibustering”.
He said: “One of the biggest flaws I see in it is that it presents the Attorney General with a conflict between his constitutional role as the adviser to the government and membership of a judicial commission that would be bound to secrecy.
“You would have the situation where three names would be given to the government for appointment but he would be unable to even tell the government if they were unanimously agreed or not.”
Independent TD and Government minister Shane Ross, who has led calls for reform of judicial appointments, criticised what he called “the filibuster by legal insiders in the Senate”.
Mr Ross told the Irish Independent that the threat of legal action was “an ingenious new delaying ruse” and appeared to question the impartiality of the Supreme Court.
He said: “They will appeal to the judiciary itself to make independent judgments on the very system of political appointment that landed them in their current positions. Wow.”