Govt ‘can answer questions’ on judicial appointments – expert
Updated / Monday, 16 Nov 2020 12:59
An expert in constitutional law has said the Government can answer questions on the appointment of judges.
Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College David Kenny said the appointment of judges is a government function and it is accountable to the legislature on the matter.
He said answering questions in the Dáil on Judicial appointments would not undermine the separation of powers or judicial independence.
Government sources are indicating that questions by the opposition for Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court would be inappropriate.
They point out that such a debate could prejudice other potential work the Oireachtas may have to undertake regarding the Supreme Court.
However, the matter is likely to be raised by the opposition when the Dáil meets tomorrow afternoon.
Amid calls for Minister McEntee to make a Dáil statement, the Government spokesperson said the scheduling of the Dáil is a matter for the Business Committee.
That committee is not set to meet today.
The Irish Times reported on Friday that a number of senior judges expressed an interest to government in the Supreme Court vacancy that judge Woulfe filled.
However, the Cabinet was told of only Mr Woulfe’s name when it made the appointment.
Government sources say Mr Justice Woulfe, who was Attorney General to the last government, was recommended by the Judicial Appointment Advisory Board (JAAB) which is chaired by Chief Justice Frank Clarke.
However, while the JAAB has a role in the appointment process of barristers and solicitors as judges, the appointment of serving judges to higher courts is a matter solely for the Government.