Judicial appointments bill to be discussed by Cabinet next week

The new Judicial Appointments Bill will come before the Cabinet for approval next Tuesday.

The bill is expected to provide for the creation of a new Judicial Appointments Commission with a lay majority and chair, despite criticism from parts of the legal profession.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was pressed in the Dáil on the status of the legislation following concerns that the Supreme Court will have only six available judges by August this year.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy and Ms Justice Susan Denham, Chief Justice of Ireland, are due to retire this year, and Mr Justice Peter Charleton is chairing the inquiry into allegations that Garda officials directed a campaign to discredit whistleblowers in the media.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin asked Mr Kenny to urgently clarify the Government’s position on judicial appointments.

Mr Kenny said: “Deputy Howlin raises a valid question. As he is aware, vacancies are recommended for filling by a process to the Minister for Justice and Equality. One vacancy arising from the death of an esteemed Supreme Court judge was not filled, and was not recommended to be filled, because the Court of Appeal was taking quite a number of cases that would normally go to the Supreme Court. That was the purpose of the setting up of the Court of Appeal.

“As per the normal course of events, a number of members of the Judiciary have been appointed recently on foot of the recommendations that have come in reduced numbers from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

“I expect that the legislation dealing with judicial appointments will come before Cabinet next Tuesday.”

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