Ross in new row on judges’ selection
Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan crossed swords in a Dáil spat over controversial legislation to reform how judges are selected.
Mr Ross accused Mr O’Callaghan of having a “vested interest” and said he was representing “not only the people of his constituency but the voice of the Law Library”.
He also claimed Mr O’Callaghan “cannot stomach having a lay majority” on the commission to consider appointments, part of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which has been championed by Mr Ross but is the subject of division within the Government.
Mr O’Callaghan said: “I’m not going to apologise to a former stockbroker for the fact that I’m a barrister.” He said that when in the Dáil, he spoke for his party and constituents. He said Mr Ross displayed “an extraordinary lack of political maturity”.
Mr Ross also tangled with his Cabinet colleague Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, who has responsibility for steering the legislation through the Oireachtas. Mr Flanagan said Mr Ross was entitled to his view on the nature of judicial appointments “but I do not share them”.
Mr Ross had said the prime objective of the Bill “is to remove the rotten practice of politicians appointing friends, cronies and political loyalists to the bench”.
But his Cabinet colleague said it was “unfair and untrue” for Mr Ross to say “that our judiciary is comprised of friends of government, past and present”.
“Our judges are highly regarded both at home within this jurisdiction and abroad.”
Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance are at odds in Government over the legislation.