Minister does nothing to dispel Political Horse Trading at the heart of the Supreme Court Recruitment Process
Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has stated; the recruitment process used to employ the person who cleans the Supreme Court is more transparent than the FG/FF process used to select judges of the Supreme Court. No fair and clear transparent criteria was detailed today by the Minister for Justice because there is none in existence. The Minister could not answer simple questions as to how many candidates she considered for the role. She claims that leaving a vacancy on the Court is good policy despite the massive backlogs of cases that are building up in the court system. The truth is, the vacancy is being left open because with a rotating Taoiseach you get a rotating right to nominate the next Judge. The inherent deeply political process must come to an end”.
Tóibín: “Everyone will agree that all recruitment processes should be fair, open and transparent, that a person should get a job on the basis of knowledge, experience, character and skill. Selection for any position should be on the basis of merit. This is not rocket science. It’s the basic standard that people expect in their working lives. For the applicant it ensures fairness and for the recruiter it ensures the best person for the job. For too long in Ireland people got jobs because who they knew not what they knew. The establishment parties in Ireland divvied up jobs on the basis of party affiliation and inner circles. Years ago if you wanted a job in Telecom Eireann you went to your local FF Councillor. That culture is still alive and well in FF and FG. TDs in these parties still make reps for supporters to get certain state jobs.”
“We saw this inner circle culture alive and well just 3 weeks ago when the Táiniste leaked a confidential not for circulation document to a friend. People recognise this culture within FF and FG as a GROSS injustice. For the last 2 weeks the Taoiseach and the Táiniste have stonewalled questions on this. They have hidden behind the smoke screen of the separation of powers. But surely one of the biggest threats to the separation of powers is the culture of party affiliates being made judges. If the process of becoming a judge is itself highly political how does that benefit the separation of power. The majority of Attorney Generals in the history of this state have been made senior judges. 16 of the 31 Attorney Generals have gone on to high-powered judgeships following their time as AG, the lowest appointment being President of the Court of Appeal all the way up to appointment to the Supreme Court. Several of the other AG's were offered judgeships but turned down for personal reasons. Judges at all levels have been party members, speechwriters, candidates, TDs, Ministers, close friends and siblings of politicians.”
“What is the remedy to all of this? The remedy to this is transparency. Firstly, a clear and transparent process of the recruitment of one of the most important jobs in the land is necessary. Secondly, transparency means a Minister and a government who are willing and able to answer questions and stand over that process. Its incredible that the Irish people know more about the selection of Judges to the US Supreme Court that then they do about our own Supreme Court. Over the last 2 weeks I have heard Government Ministers interviewed on radio as to what is the process and admitting that they don’t really know fully the process here. Why does the process have to be more hidden than the third secret of Fatima? Three weeks into the job as Minister for Justice is the Minister really saying she did not mention the names of the other candidates to either the Taoiseach or the Táinaiste?Does any one in the country think that its credible that a process that has been knee high in political horse trading since the beginning of the state that she did not speak to your political bosses at all about the other applicants to this job? We need to have confidence in our judiciary and in fairness to the judiciary the register regularly in research has having the confidence of the vast majority of Irish people. The truth is that this process and the lack of transparency has done damage. I note the standard government response has been. They did everything right, but now recognise there is a problem and will now fix that problem. That’s horse manure. If the opposition did not seek to flood this issue with the light of transparency it would have been business as usual. Its the equivalent of a child found with his hand in the cookie jar advising he mother that she left the jar too low and accessible. Politicians and political parties are forever calling for political reform when the most obvious reform is far parties to cop on to themselves and stop doing what’s obviously wrong. Laws and regulations are necessary only when the people concerned have not the moral compass to do the right thing themselves.”