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'Dog's dinner' judges Bill is going to be passed by summer, says Ross

When passed, the law will ensure there is a “fair system of how judges are appointed”, said Shane Ross.

Transport Minister Shane Ross says there will be a robust debate of his judicial appointments Bill in the Seanad.
Transport Minister Shane Ross says there will be a robust debate of his judicial appointments Bill in the Seanad.
Image: Sam Boal

IT’S BEEN DUBBED as an unconstitutional “dog’s dinner”, but Transport Minister Shane Ross has said his Judicial Appointments Commission Bill will be passed by the summer.

His comments come after reports of “heated exchanges” during this week’s Cabinet meeting, where the appointments of four senior judges to the Court of Appeal and High Court were approved.

The Bill has been progressed at the behest of Shane Ross and his Independent Alliance colleagues, who made it one of the preconditions for forming part of the minority government.

The minister said the legislation will “radically change the way we appoint our judges” and will remove the “political patronage” from the system.

The legislation has faced significant political opposition since it was tabled – however it passed through all stages of the Dáil last week.

It has also faced significant delays due to the many amendments tabled, and in the meantime, judges continue to be appointed by government.

The new president of the Court of Appeal, George Birmingham, recently warned he was facing an “immediate crisis” if more judges aren’t appointed.

Ross told RTÉ’s News at One yesterday that there is “no way” he was going to start blocking the appointment of judges if justice is not being done because of a shortage of judges.

“I am not going to be blocking every single appointment,” he said.

However, he said it is vital that the Bill be allowed progress.

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“It is very urgent we get this Bill through… I hope the Bill will be passed very soon… I said I hoped to have it by the summer, I still hope to have it by the summer,” he said.

The minister said that there has been delays in progressing legislation, not just this Bill, but also others due to “filibustering” by a handful of TDs.

When one piece of legislation is held up, it has a knock-on effect, he said, stating that his drink-driving legislation has also been impacted.

Ross said the Bill will now go to the Seanad where there will be “robust debate”. When passed, the law will ensure there is a “fair system of how judges are appointed”, said the minister.

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