Today’s Dáil statement by the Minister for Justice on the circumstances of Seamus Woulfe’s appointment to the Supreme Court highlights the necessity for a constitutional referendum on judicial reform, according to Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats.

Deputy Murphy, who is the party’s spokesperson for Justice, said:

“It is regrettable that we are still none the wiser as to what process, if any, was followed by Minister McEntee in only putting a single name forward to Cabinet for the Supreme Court vacancy.

“The minister stated that there are no specific criteria in respect of evaluating suitable candidates. Instead, she used her own judgement to determine who the best candidate was.

“The minister then contradicted herself, referring to criteria she refused to get into because there are members of the judiciary still sitting on a list in her office.

“It is also concerning that the minister revealed to the Dáil today that she had an informal discussion with the Tánaiste about Mr Woulfe’s name coming through JAAB.

“The Tánaiste clearly stated to the minister that he thought Mr Woulfe would make a good judge – this is an intrusion on the process.

“The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) is a vetting process – it does not make recommendations to appoint. The minister needs to stop using JAAB for political cover.

“We need a judicial appointment process that truly reflects the separation of powers. The Social Democrats have concluded that this cannot be done with involvement of the political strand. There must be a total separation, and this is going to require a referendum.

“It is the only way we are going to end this nonsense once and for all.”

November 26, 2020

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