The refusal of the Minister for Justice to answer questions in a normal manner about the circumstances of Seamus Woulfe’s appointment to the Supreme Court has the potential to bring both the Oireachtas and the judiciary into disrepute, according to Róisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Shortall said:

“The Dáil and the public are entitled to know the process by which an appointment was made to the Supreme Court – and why there was a 12-month delay in filling the vacancy. We also need to see the much-needed and long-promised reform of the relationship between the Oireachtas and the judiciary.

“Regrettably, Minister McEntee has refused to outline that process to us or abide by the longstanding tradition where a minister comes into the House and explains his or her actions to ensure accountability.

“We have to end the charade of the minister talking about coming in and answering questions under the regular arrangements for oral questions. This simply does not wash and is not acceptable by any standards.

“We need a full explanation as to the criteria used in terms of identifying why one person was appointed to the Supreme Court as opposed to the other three candidates who had applied. It is important to stress that it is the process we are talking about, not the merits of one individual over another.

“The Minister should explain why she did not inform other leaders of the Coalition parties in relation to the existence of the additional three candidates.

“The Taoiseach has been playing into the false narrative that his Fine Gael colleagues have been peddling for the past number of weeks. He needs to insist, in the interest of proper accountability, that Minister McEntee comes into the Dáil and answers questions on the Supreme Court appointment in a normal manner.”

November 24, 2020

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