Thursday, 19 November 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
I thank the Deputy. The Minister for Justice has acted correctly and appropriately and has upheld the Constitution in fulfilling her duties on this matter and every other matter. If this is genuinely about the process and not about the suitability of individual candidates, here is exactly what happened. When making judicial appointments the Minister for Justice considered recommendations from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board and expressions of interest from serving members of the Judiciary and also a list of serving judges who had not expressed an interest in a vacant position but were also eligible for promotion. The three lists that exist, which we all know about, have existed for years, if not decades. Expressions of interest for court vacancies are sent to the Attorney General’s office on an ongoing basis and are then passed to the Department of Justice where they are kept on file for any current vacancies or future vacancies. Lists of serving judges who have expressed an interest in being promoted to a higher court are kept for each court, with the exception of the District Court, which being the lowest jurisdiction is not a court that a serving judges can get promoted into. The list of confidential expressions of interest is separate from the list of members of the Judiciary who are eligible for promotion but have not expressed an interest to the Government.
It is the standard practice with judicial appointments that the Minister for Justice considers recommendations from the JAAB, expressions of interest from serving members of the Judiciary and judges who are eligible for promotion who have not expressed an interest. On deciding to advise the President on whom to appoint to judicial office, the Government is obliged to first consider the persons recommended by the JAAB. Discussions at Cabinet and with ministerial colleagues are confidential and Cabinet confidentiality is a constitutional requirement. The Minister for Justice followed this process exactly and in accordance with the Cabinet Handbook consulted with me, the Taoiseach, the Attorney General and the Leader of the Green Party.