Judicial appointments bill clears second stage in the Seanad

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

The Government’s controversial Judicial Appointments Commission Bill cleared the Seanad at second stage yesterday.

The bill, which has been criticised by leading members of the Irish judiciary and the Association of Judges of Ireland (AJI), will proceed to committee stage next Tuesday.

Addressing the Seanad, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan acknowledged flaws in the legislation but added: “I believe we can make further improvements to the bill by working together.”

Independent Senator Michael McDowell, a former Justice Minister and Attorney General, said he would not oppose the bill at second stage “to show that I have some goodwill left towards the good parts”.

However, in a swipe at Mr Flanagan’s Cabinet colleague Shane Ross, he added that the bill “seems to be driven by a kind of determination on the part of one member of the Government to settle scores with the Judiciary and the legal profession rather than a well-considered view of what is needed in the appointment of judges”.

Mr Flanagan said that he still intended to complete the legislation by the summer recess, but would not “hamstring” Senators.

He told the Seanad: “I want open debate and positive contributions and I want to deal with the issues. I hope that we can complete the legislation in the timeframe set down by the Seanad for its work to be completed, perhaps towards the end of July.”

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