Government Judicial Reform Does Not Deliver De-Politicisation Of Our Courts
Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has criticize the proposed Judicial Reform Legislation being put forward as failing to deliver de-politicisation of the judicial nomination process.
An Teachta Tóibín:
“After the debacle of the Justice Seamus Woulfe nomination and the exposure of the deeply political nature of the Judicial nomination process in this country, the new Judicial nomination bill unveiled by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is not worth the paper it is written on and fails to deliver de-politicisation of our Courts system.
The reforms previously brought forward by Shane Ross have been dropped. The Bill itself has been criticised by the Council of Europe’s anti-Corruption group Greco, and the European Commission. Furthermore, the Minister has now written to the Ceann Comhairle to bypass legislative scrutiny of the Bill because ‘it has already been debated.’ This is a scandalous move by the Minister, and yet another example of this government treating the Houses of Oireachtas as formalities as opposed to Checks and Balances upon the authority and actions of the government.”
“The Bill guts the Ross reforms of a 17 person Commission, with a lay chair and lay majority. Rather now what we have is a situation whereby the AG will chair a Commission of four judges and four non-legal persons, albeit without a vote. In the recent Woulfe controversy, this would have led to Seamus Woulfe presiding over his own expression of interest. This would have put us in an entirely unsatisfactory situation where the Chair of the Commission improperly presides over his own nomination or the Commission is without its Chair to preside over nominations.
This Bill does nothing to end the political horse-trading at the heart of our judicial nominations process. Even the European Commission recognises this fact. This is yet another example of the government being seen to do something, whilst actually doing nothing to tackle a system they and their friends have benefited from. There needs to be thorough de-politicisation of the judicial appointment process, and the Dáil needs to be empowered in its oversight over the appointment of judges. The Courts are charged with the care of our laws and our people – not to be a source of jobs for those with the right contacts.”