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Lay members of key Judicial Council committees named
Chief Justice Frank Clarke, in his Four Courts office Pic: Cian Redmond

22 Jul 2020 / justice Print

Lay members for Judicial Council are announced

Justice minister Helen McEntee has named the lay members of a number of Judicial Council committees and nomination for appointment of lay members to the committee’s panel of inquiry.

She said their experience, skills and knowledge will be of great benefit in promoting and maintaining public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.

They are:

• Kieran Coughlan, Claire Archbold, Professor Maeve Conrick, Patrick Doyle and Professor Bernard McCartan appointed as lay members to the Judicial Conduct Committee;

• Vivian Geiran, Dr Diarmuid Griffin, Michael O’Sullivan, Marianne O’Kane and Dr Sinéad Ring appointed as lay members of the Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee,

• John Naughton, Eoin Doyle, Mrs. Molly Buckley, Clodagh Geraghty, James Doorley, Colm Deignan, George Maybury and Rosemary Smyth nominated for appointment as lay members of the Panel of Inquiry.  

Landmark development 

The minister described the recent establishment of the Judicial Council is a landmark development in the history of the Irish judiciary.

She said the appointments build on the great work already undertaken by the Chief Justice Frank Clarke, the secretary and the members and staff of the Council.  

The appointments and nominations have been made independently following a Public Appointments Service (PAS) selection process in accordance with the Judicial Council Act 2019.

The Judicial Council, established on 17 December 2019, is an independent body whose members are all of the judges in Ireland and who constitute a separate and independent branch of Government.  

Section 7 of the Judicial Council Act 2019 sets out the functions of the Judicial Council as being to promote and maintain:

Excellence 

▪ Excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions;

▪ High standards of conduct among judges, having regard to the principles of judicial conduct requiring judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence and diligence and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts;

  • The effective and efficient use of resources made available to judges for the purposes of the exercise of their functions;
  •  Continuing education of judges,
  • Respect for the independence of the judiciary, and Public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.
  • Lay member representation is required, under the 2019 Act, on the Judicial Conduct Committee, the Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee, and Panels of Inquiry
  • The Judicial Conduct Committee and the Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee were formally established by the Judicial Council on 30 June 2020. In accordance with the Judicial Council Act 2019, these committees must hold their first meeting within one month of establishment and lay member participation is required at same,

Rebuke 

  • Sentencing Guidelines Committee: Responsible for compiling guidelines designed to increase consistency in relation to criminal sentences.
  • Judicial Conduct Committee: A disciplinary committee with power to investigate complaints and issue varying levels of rebuke, to be established in guidance procedures, to judges, 
  • Panels of Inquiry: Shall conduct investigations of complaints referred by the Judicial Conduct Committee.
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