Thursday, 17 December 2020
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I am afraid I am not in position to answer the Deputy's questions. I have not seen these documents. The Deputy said there are 300 of them. I understand none of them relates to me or communications involving me. It is difficult to answer a question about documents I have not seen and do not contain any communications involving me.
From the documents and what I have read in the newspapers, I understand it was indicated that the appointment might be made at Cabinet on 6 January. In the end, it was not. There were several Cabinet meetings after that. The Minister for Justice had time and, indeed, consulted all party leaders and the Attorney General before making the appointment. The Deputy will know from his time in Cabinet that it is often the case that something is put on the agenda but then not taken or withdrawn for many different reasons.
My understanding is that the Chief Justice had written on several occasions asking that this appointment be made. He felt there was a vacancy in the Supreme Court that needed to be filled. As the outgoing Government, we took a view that we were not going to make that appointment and that it was a matter for the next Government. I might speculate that the source of the urgency was that this was an appointment that the Chief Justice wanted to be made.
In terms of the date, I do not know the exact date but I recall that, in questions that I and the Minister, Deputy McEntee, answered before, we gave the range during the period of dates where we would have had that conversation, which would have been, obviously, after her appointment as Minister for Justice and before that decision was taken to bring that appointment to Cabinet.