Máire Whelan appointment to top court job labelled “cronyism”

The Government announced the appointment on Tuesday

Máire Whelan appointment to top court job labelled “cronyism”

Máire Whelan is pictured at Aras an Uachtarain in 2011 | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Attorney-General Máire Whelan has been appointed to the Court of Appeal, the Government has announced.

This vacancy arose after the retirement of Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan in March 2017.

Ms Whelan is stepping down as Attorney-General on Wednesday.

The Government says it has taken the necessary steps to formally advise President Michael D Higgins of the nomination.

However, questions have been raised about the manner of the appointment.

It has been confirmed that Ms Whelan did not apply for the job - but as there were no applicants for the job, the Government could pick whoever it wanted.

Roisin Shortall of the Social Democrats says the appointment “smacks of hypocrisy and cronyism”.

She said: “This naked political appointment is the height of hypocrisy from a Government that is supposed to be introducing a law to take politics out of the appointment of judges.

“It is as far as you can possibly get from the Government’s pledge to make judicial appointments transparent, fair and credible.

“It makes a mockery of talk of reform and shows that the government does not believe in its own hype when it comes to ridding cronyism from the judicial system.”

While Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin used his speech in the Dáil Wednesday to criticise the move, saying: “Yesterday’s appointment to the Court of Appeal represents the first time in nearly a quarter of a century that an appointment such as this was made in this manner.

“It directly by-passed established procedures and the excuse that there were no qualified applicants is clearly false given that the last application process closed nearly six months ago and there was no public advertisement of this vacancy.”

Mr Martin also said the “rushed and unusual manner of the appointment... is at best squalid.”

Ms Whelan was appointed Attorney-General on March 9th 2011 and re-appointed on May 6th 2016.

The Government’s move paves the way for a new Fine Gael appointment of to the office of Attorney-General.