Seanad debates

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)


10:30 am

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

Formally or informally, it does not make much difference; if someone gets the tap on the shoulder it is the same thing. If the Attorney General asks someone to put their name forward for consideration, implicit in that is confidence that they are not wasting their time in doing so.

I go one stage further. When that happened in cases of which I had experience, I was always very careful before I tapped anybody on the shoulder, in whatever capacity, to make it very clear that I was not going to raise an expectation and then disappoint it by not following through. I thought it would be particularly cruel and unfair to an applicant, to say, “You should apply for a particular position” giving them a clear message that they would be considered and then have to go back to the person and say, “Sorry, nobody agreed with the idea; it was just my own personal idea.” One would not do something of that kind.

There is nothing wrong with approaching people and asking them to make applications. There is nothing wrong with having a system whereby that can be done. The Minister makes the point that it is an informal arrangement at the moment. I accept it is somewhat informal. However, I understand this Bill to be designed to bring that informal arrangement to an end such that everybody who turns up before the judicial appointments commission will turn up on the same basis. They will not have felt any kind of tap on their shoulder and will not have been given any encouragement to do so from anybody in a position to make the appointment. From that point of view I radically disagree with the Minister’s view on the matter.

I believe amendment No. 85a in my name should proceed. I also support Senator Bacik’s amendments, even though they are somewhat at variance with what I am suggesting but nonetheless are going in the same overall direction. In the circumstances, I cannot add much more to the matter.


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