Candidates for the judiciary will have to face interviews as part of new reforms

Lawyers seeking appointment to the judiciary, as well as sitting judges seeking promotion, will have to undergo interviews under reforms to be published shortly.

The long-awaited bill will also require a new commission to advise the government on the appointment to publish a diversity statement.

This would be a commitment to the goal that the composition of the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the population as a whole.

Attorney General Helen McEntee said the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022, if passed, would result in the biggest reform of judicial elections in a quarter century.

The current system has been at the center of controversy for some time, particularly during the last administration when then Transport Secretary Shane Ross regularly criticized the process and sought sweeping reforms.

A bill championed by Mr. Ross provided for an advisory commission of judges, but with a lay majority and a lay chairman. However, this bill lapsed.

Under the bill presented by Ms McEntee, there will be an equal number of judges and lay judges, and the Chief Justice will preside. The Attorney General will also sit on the Commission, but will not have voting rights.

The Attorney General’s involvement comes despite criticism of the proposal by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

It has been claimed that the reasons for retaining the Attorney General are “unclear” and that although he or she has no voting rights, they could influence decision-making.

A key change in Ms McEntee’s bill is that it will reduce the number of recommended candidates to just three, one of which must be presented for Cabinet consideration. Two other recommendations would be made for a second and further vacancies.

Under the current system, the advisory committee for appointing judges can recommend up to seven candidates, but the justice secretary also sees who else has applied and uses his discretion to decide which name to bring to the cabinet.

“I firmly believe that a candidate should only be recommended after an interview, so I made that a requirement in the bill,” Ms. McEntee said.

“Additionally, I have included a requirement that the appointment of judges must reflect the need for candidates to pursue legal training or ongoing professional development.” Candidates for the judiciary will have to face interviews as part of new reforms

Fry Electronics Team

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