Dáil debate over judicial appointments adjourned over 'unacceptable level of confusion'

The Government's bill is backed by Sinn Féin, with the party saying they 'believe it is necessary'

Dáil debate over judicial appointments adjourned over 'unacceptable level of confusion'

Photo: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

The Dáil is expected to resume a debate on judicial appointments today after it was suspended yesterday.

Confusion arose over the number of lay people allowed on a new commission which will oversee how judges are appointed.

It's not clear if the commission must have a majority of members from the legal profession.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said there appeared to be "an unacceptable level of confusion" around the bill, before adjourning the debate until today to allow TDs examine the amendments.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill has proved controversial, with Attorney General having described the legislation as a “dog’s dinner.”

The Government's bill is, however, being backed by Sinn Féin - leading to suggestions it could be preparing for a future coalition with Fine Gael.

Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire described the proposed legislation as "something we believe is necessary".

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he argued the bill will ensure there's a transparent system for judicial appointments "that's independent and free from the sort of political influence that has dogged it over many years".

He added: "The next election... our view is that we are open to discussing government with all parties.

"Whether in government or opposition... we are a business-like, and where we see an opportunity for the public and our constituents, we will use whatever leverage is available."

However, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has been quick to dispel any speculation of a potential coalition.

He told Breakfast: "To be very clear, Fine Gael will not be going into government with Sinn Féin.

"We are minority government, Sinn Féin vote against us in the Dáil nearly all the time. Because we're a minority government, we have to win votes in the Dáil on the basis of our arguments rather than having a majority."