Seanad debates

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)


10:30 am

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent) | Oireachtas source

No. What happens in the Members' bar stays in it. When it comes to the restaurant, it is a grey area.

Regarding my difficulties with the word "may" where it appears a second time in the amendment, it would be better if it was turned into "shall", but I accept that the matter is covered by subsection (2) which governs the entire process. I am satisfied in that regard and there is no difficulty.

I am distressed to hear phrases such as "marking scheme". That sounds as if judges will be held up like schoolchildren for some little test by outside consultants. That is not their function. I do not at all like the idea of marking judges. The purpose of the amendment is clear and obvious, namely, to allow the Government some control over how quickly the judicial appointments commission may make a recommendation in respect of any particular or apprehended vacancy. It is an absolutely essential check and balance over the commission to ensure the Government will not completely outsource and lose control over its constitutional function to recommend to the President judicial nominees. This is an important point about the idea of outsourcing to consultants something that is part of the essential Government's prerogative. Article 35 of the Constitution states clearly and explicitly that it is the right of the Government to recommend to the President an appointment to the Judiciary. This provision cannot be undermined or changed without a vote of the people. It is included in the Constitution for a good reason.

The Supreme Court is equivalent to the American Supreme Court, the composition of which is a matter of considerable political importance to the American people, as the composition of the Supreme Court is to the Irish people. If the Government believes the Supreme Court is showing tendencies to be a little too liberal or illiberal, it is its right to nominate a judge whose appointment is intended to ensure the balance will be correctly maintained according to its viewpoint. Citizens elect politicians to represent their interests, with their first task being to elect a Taoiseach who appoints the Government.


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