Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality has called on the Government to fill longstanding judicial vacancies.
Commenting on the issue in the Dáil, Deputy O’Callaghan said: “There has been a vacancy on the Court of Appeal since December 2015 as well as two vacancies on the High Court.The Courts Act, enacted in December 2015, increased the number of High Court judges by two because the Government recognised at that time that an increase in High Court judges was required to ensure that the High Court workload could be adequately managed. However there are more vacancies now than before the announcement was made. There are also vacancies on the Circuit and District Courts.These need to be filled as a matter of urgency.
“No explanation has been provided by the Government as to why these vacancies have not been filled for six months but the people who are affected by this inaction are the citizens who cannot to get their cases heard because of the absence of sufficient judges. Often, people think that the filling of judicial vacancies is a matter to convenience judges or lawyers, which it is not. It is required in order to ensure that citizens who appear before our courts, who are anxious to secure and seek justice, have an opportunity to have their rights vindicated. Where there is a shortage of judges because vacancies have not been filled, this interferes with the constitutional rights of citizens and the families of victims of crime to have their cases heard promptly
“It is crucial that the Government proceeds promptly to make nominations to fill vacancies in the Judiciary rather than waiting to find out what will happen with Cabinet discussions about changing the method of nomination. The establishment of a new judicial appointments commission is important but there needs to be urgency to the Government’s deliberations on this matter.
“Fianna Fail will be bringing forward its own legislation which will provide that an independent commission can recommend and rank, based on merit, a small group of suitably qualified persons to Government for nomination.”