Following publication of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill earlier this month, President of the Law Society Michelle Ní Longáin said, “We welcome the intention to reform the judicial appointments process for the public benefit.
"Diversity among the judiciary is an important aspect of the proposed reforms. The interests of society will be best served by a judiciary that is rich in a variety of life experiences and backgrounds. We need a more diverse pool of candidates for judicial appointment; candidates that are reflective of our society.
“Ireland is a flourishing multi-cultural country. This must be represented at every level of the legal profession, including the senior ranks. As such, we believe that this legislation should set broad eligibility criteria which allow for the widest possible pool of candidates to be considered.
“The Law Society has undertaken extensive work to ensure that the pathway to solicitor education is increasingly accessible. This is a necessary component in enhancing diversity, in all its forms, across the profession and we are committed to continuing to develop a profession that is reflective of modern Ireland.
“Looking to our nearest neighbours, and the Judicial Appointments Commission in the UK which includes two professional members, we are concerned that the proposal in the Bill to remove representatives of the legal professions from the Commission table will have an extraordinarily negative impact, and it will be society that suffers the long-term consequences.
“Solicitors operate at every level of seniority within the courts structure, dealing with every conceivable matter before the law. They have first-hand experience of the impact of the courts on users of the courts system as a result of their close interactions with the public.
“The Law Society echoes the concerns of the many Deputies who have highlighted the fact that the judiciary is insufficiently resourced in this country during second stage debates on this Bill. We repeat our call for the immediate and targeted investment in court personnel and resources which is needed to ensure the efficient administration of justice in the State to ensure access to justice.”