Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan TD has condemned Fine Gael’s manoeuvring on the Judicial Appointments process and the party’s decision to put silly party politics ahead of proper reform.

Deputy O’Callaghan commented, “Fine Gael’s attitude to the Fianna Fáil Judicial Appointments Bill smacks of arrogant Fine Gael politics and is deeply, deeply cynical. Fine Gael party pride is being put ahead of the need to do the right thing.

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are agreed since the Confidence and Supply Arrangement was signed last May on the requirement to “Establish a Judicial Appointments Commission to identify the most suitable candidates for judicial office”.

“On behalf of my party I developed and published a Bill that does precisely this on October 26th. Despite a litany of promises and a significant backlog on judicial appointments, the government has failed to produce any sort of a Bill.

“Ignoring the fact that the number of vacancies were growing, Fine Gael insisted that there was no issue and denied the fact that Transport and Tourism Minister Shane Ross was holding back the process. But now, rather than accept a fit-for-purpose Bill because it came from my party, the promise of reform is being dropped and advertisements are going to be published under the old JAB process.

“Perhaps the most dishonest element of Fine Gael’s decision to block our Bill reforming this process is their reliance on article 17.2 of the Constitution to block the Fianna Fáil Bill.

“This is normally utilised only on rare occasions and when excess spending is outlined in an Opposition Bill. By refusing to grant the committee permission to consider the Fianna Fáil bill, the government has blocked the Oireachtas from considering genuine proposals for judicial reform.

“This stroke is being deployed despite the majority of the cross party Justice Committee agreeing to the Bill proceeding.

“There were no amendments submitted by government or even by Minister Ross, despite his posturing. So basically, the Government has stood back, stalled and then blocked a Bill that does exactly what everyone is agreed needs to be done, going ahead with appointments under the process they railed against. And all this because Fianna Fáil recognise the urgency of it and have brought forward the Bill before anyone else.

“The message from the public during the last election was that they were sick of the arrogance and sick of the game playing. It is increasingly clear that Fine Gael remain completely deaf to that message.”