October 18th 2017

“Cathoirleach, let me begin by saying that I welcome the start of committee stage for this Bill. I think it is important for me to re-emphasise that this is a major piece of legislation; arising from public consultations in 2014 and also from a widespread belief that it is necessary to reform the system for judicial appointments 

The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) has served the country well, and we have an excellent judiciary, with a very high level of public confidence in that judiciary. 

The Programme for Partnership Government commits to the establishment of a new Judicial Appointments Commission with an Independent Chair and a lay majority. That is exactly what this Bill delivers.

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I will be listening today. The Government is not proposing any amendments at this stage. As minister, I will not be agreeing to any amendments which cut across the basic tenets of the Programme for Partnership Government commitment. 

However, I stress that our minds are not closed in relation to a number of areas raised in today’s amendments. I would also like to express my appreciation for all of the work which Deputies have clearly put into putting together the almost 200 amendments before us today.

The areas covered by the amendments shows a huge diversity in thinking, and also highlights a number of differences in policy approaches, which we will no doubt be debating today.
Let me conclude by saying that I look forward to debating these amendments with the Committee this morning.”