Justice Minister agrees to allow the heads of more courts on Judicial Appointments Commission

The Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has offered an olive branch to judges, by agreeing to let the heads of more courts have a seat on a new body to pick the judiciary.

Mr Flanagan says the move is being made "after careful consideration" of an intervention made by judges yesterday.

He made the announcement as he began the Dáil debate on moves to create a new Judicial Appointments Commission.

The commission would introduce a lay-chairperson and a majority of lay-members.

The Chief Justice and the heads of the other courts wrote directly to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining concern about the plans, while the association representing judges in Ireland warned that the proposed changes are “seriously flawed.”

Minister Flanagan says the moves will make the system fit for purpose, but accepts that the presidents of the Circuit and District Courts should be included.

He told deputies: "Having listened to the views of the judiciary on the matter, and reflecting on the point in the context of pre-legislative scrutiny debate... it seems to me to be desirable to meet this particular point.

"The new Commission will have strong lay representation. This legislation is largely about getting the balance right as between different contributions and interests."

The bill is being pushed forward by the Independent Alliance, and particularly by the Transport Minister Shane Ross, who has called the current system “rotten”.

Minister Flanagan is known to have reservations about certain aspects of the legislation, and is reportedly unhappy with some of Minister Ross’s comments on the matter.

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