Fianna Fáil has described Shane Ross's Judicial Appointments Bill as 'nonsensical and silly.'
Minister Ross is demanding a majority of lay people from outside the legal profession on the board that appoints judges as part of his Judicial Appointments Bill.
The legislation was one of his key demands during negotiations with Fine Gael on the formation of Government.
Members of the legal profession, including the association representing Irish judges, have warned that the legislation is “seriously flawed” – and earlier this year the Attorney General described it as a “dog’s dinner.”
Minister Ross has said the plan aims to put an end to political interference in the judicial appointments process.
File photo of Fianna Fáíl justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan, 12-01-2018. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews
This afternoon, Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan again took aim at Minister Ross over the plans.
Deputy O'Callaghan said ordinary people would not have the expertise needed to assess who should be appointed to the judiciary.
He also rejected claims from Minister Ross that only lawyers are opposed to the bill:
“We have got this fiction from Shane that says it is a very good thing to have a lay majority on the board,” he said.
“It doesn’t happen in England and Wales; it doesn’t happen in Scotland.
“Notwithstanding Shane’s repeated personalised references to people being opposed to it because they are lawyers; the reason I am opposed to it is because it is a really silly idea.
“Unfortunately, he does not wake up to that and you have a Government who are asleep at the wheel and are prepared to give him what he wants, just to keep him onside.”
Shane Ross addresses a rally protesting the closure of Stepaside Garda Station, 03-02-2013. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews
Fianna Fáil has also hit out at Minister Ross over his role in plans to reopen Stepaside Garda Station ahead of others also recommended by Gardaí.
Minister Ross has long campaigned for Stepaside to be re-opened – however he denied any involvement in the decision.
“Whatever about Stepaside Garda Station – let him have that little frolic,” said Deputy O’Callaghan.
“But the idea that we are going to change the method whereby judges are appointed for another one of his frolics is nonsensical.
“It reflects very badly on the Taoiseach and the Government.”