Seanad debates

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)


10:30 am

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent) | Oireachtas source

That is fine. I wished only to ensure it was noted on the record in case I need to refer to it on Report Stage.

The amendments seek to draw a distinction between those who are serving judges or relevant officeholders and other potential applicants, conscious that section 39 of the Bill provides for applications for appointment to judicial office through section 39(1), which allows for an applicant to be "a person who is for the time being a serving judge a relevant office holder" and which goes on to require that the person shall make an application to the commission if he or she wishes to be considered for judicial office.In amendments Nos. 84 and 85, combined, we are seeking to take out of section 39(1) the reference to serving judges or relevant officeholders and make a separate provision for serving judges or relevant officeholders in order to enable the commission to directly invite such persons, and others, to make an application to be considered for selection. Amendment No. 84 makes it clear that the power to make such an invitation does not constitute or give rise to preferential consideration by the commission. It simply gives the commission power to invite directly a particular person to make an application to be considered for selection rather than leaving it up to the person to make the application to the commission, as in section 39 as currently constituted.

Our amendments Nos. 86 and 87, which are coming up shortly, are different and relate to gender balance. The gender balance in our Judiciary is, in fact, better than in many other common law countries but it is well established that, from time to time, to achieve greater diversity in any profession, including the Judiciary, powers such as positive action, mentoring or some other additional support to those who are under-represented should be built in and amendment No. 84 should be seen in that context. It gives the commission power to invite persons to apply, which is a power that may, from time to time, be useful particularly if the commission is to have regard to the need for gender balance among the Judiciary.

Amendment No. 85 is the consequent amendment because it would delete the relevant provision in section 39(1). We are trying to provide a distinct power to the commission of direct invitation for potential applicants, including those applicants who are, for the time being, serving judges and relevant officeholders.


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