Controversial Judicial Appointments Bill goes to the Dáil

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has concerns over the bill

Controversial Judicial Appointments Bill goes to the Dáil

A courtroom in the Courts of Criminal Justice in Dublin | Image:

Ministers are preparing for a Cabinet showdown over plans to overhaul the appointment of judges.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is demanding the Government move ahead with its plans, while the Fine Gael minister responsible for the law is encouraging TDs to speak against it.

The long-awaited Judicial Appointments Commission Bill is due to make its debut in the Dáil this evening when it will be introduced by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

It is being pushed forward at the request of the Independent Alliance - and in particular the Minister Shane Ross, who does not want the names of judges put forward by a body dominated by lawyers.

Although Cabinet sources say the Government is determined to press ahead with the bill, last night it emerged Mr Flanagan was unhappy with some of Mr Ross's commentary, and parts of the bill itself.

Minister Flanagan also encouraged Fine Gael TDs to contribute to the Dáil debate on the bill - though contrary to earlier reports, he did not ask that they speak against it.

While writing in the Irish Times on Monday, Mr Flanagan said: "I am conscious that I will be introducing this bill in a very challenging context... I am greatly disturbed by the tenor and content of some of the recent public discourse about the judiciary, one of the three branches of Government under our Constitution."

The Cabinet will also discuss the unprecedented letter written by the Chief Justice and leading colleagues last night, saying the bill had "serious implications for the administration of justice".

The Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the President of the High Court, the President of the Circuit Court, and the President of the District Court have written a joint letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

If the bill does continue to the Dáil, it will only pass thanks to the support of Sinn Féin given that Fianna Fáil are planning to vote against it.