Independent TD Mattie McGrath has asked the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to confirm that all statutory obligations were fulfilled with respect to the proposed appointment of Mr Justice Peter Kelly to the Presidency of the High Court. Deputy McGrath was speaking after concerns were brought to his attention that the appointment may have breached the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995:
“The surprise Cabinet nomination of Mr Justice Kelly appears on the face of it to have breached the strict requirements of the Courts and Courts Officers Act 1995; specifically those elements of section 16 which require the Judicial Office to recommend to the Minister at least seven other persons for the appointment.
It is crucially important that the Minister clarifies this matter so that we may avoid any impression being given that this is essentially a political appointment to one of the highest judicial offices in the State.
The relevant sections of the 1995 Act also mentions the necessity to establish that the appointee has the necessary temperament; and for all Justice Kelly’s legal skill he has an unfortunate history of siding with the banks in cases that come before him.
In any event I am calling on the Minister who made such fanfare out of the transparency created by Legal Services and Regulations Bill to immediately address this matter for the sake of maintaining what public confidence there is in the judiciary,” concluded Deputy McGrath.