Fine Gael not required to get approval on judicial appoints, Varadkar says

There were heated scenes in the Dáil last night over Máire Whelan's appointment

Fine Gael not required to get approval on judicial appoints, Varadkar says

Maire Whelan receiving her Seal of Office at Aras an Uachtarain in 2011 | Image:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said there has been no breach of the Government's confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil in appointing Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

The Government has been accused of 'circumventing the law' on choosing judges, to suit the appointment of the former Attorney-General.

Mr Varadkar was asked if the appointment damaged Fine Gael's agreement with Fianna Fáil.

Speaking in Brussels he said: "The week that has gone by I don't think has been helpful for either party, but we have a written agreement.

"That written agreement does not require that we run appointments - either judicial appointments or public appointments by Fianna Fáil - nor could it.

"So I don't believe that there has been a breach of the confidence and supply agreement, I don't see any reason now why that agreement should fall.

"But I do believe that, over the next couple of weeks, it will be necessary for us to work closely as parties and have some confidence building moves or confidence building gestures".

Máire Whelan was appointed to the Court of Appeal by President Higgins on Monday | Image: Páraic Gallagher

In fiery scenes in the Dáil on Wednesday night, Both the current and former justice ministers defended the nomination of Ms Justice Whelan.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald denied that President Michael D Higgins was put under pressure to make the appointment quickly.

"To suggest that there was any undue pressure or to say that the president in any way would succumb to pressure I think is outrageous and absolutely untrue - and inappropriate to even suggest it", Ms Fitzgerald said.

And Minister Flanagan also refused to confirm reports that Ms Justice Whelan remained at the Cabinet table while her nomination was discussed.

He was asked if it was correct procedure that the Attorney-General would remain at the table while they were discussing her position.

Mr Flanagan replied: "I'm quite satisfied that in these circumstances, surrounding this appointment, that the correct and proper procedures were employed from start to finish".

Additional reporting: Gavan Reilly & Jack Quann