Social Democrats demand answers on nakedly political judicial appointment

June 15, 2017

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has demanded answers from the government on how the nakedly political appointment of the outgoing Attorney General to the Court of Appeal came about.

Deputy Shortall said the silence of Minister Shane Ross on the scandal was the height of hypocrisy, given his forthright criticism of cronyism in judicial appointments and pledges to make the system more transparent and credible.

Deputy Shortall said:

“The way this appointment has been made is as far as you can possibly get from the government’s pledge to make judicial appointments transparent, fair and credible. It is deeply insulting that the government feels it can avoid giving a full account of how this nakedly political appointment came about. We need a clear time line with answers on this, not the platitudes we are hearing about custom and tradition which is shorthand for ‘jobs for the boys’.

“It is clear that the government presumed that it could get away with awarding this plum job to an insider in this unaccountable and untransparent manner, and that the issue would slip under the radar unnoticed.”

Deputy Shortall said the following questions must be answered:

  • How many candidates applied for the Court of Appeal vacancy earlier this year?
  • Why was the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) not able to put forward suitable names for recommendation to the government?
  • Was the JAAB told that it had to supply names of potential candidates by a certain deadline?
  • Did Ms Whelan, in her role as Attorney General, receive correspondence from three High Court judges asking to be considered for the post?
  • Did Ms Whelan, who was a member of the JAAB by virtue of her position as Attorney General, declare any conflict of interest or recuse herself when it was considering candidates for the vacancy?
  • Why was the post held open for three months and then filled in this manner?


15 June 2017