Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Judicial Appointments.

114.

asked the Minister for Justice if the Government have before them any proposals to reform the current procedure for the appointment of members of the judiciary; and, if so, the nature of such proposals.

The answer is "no".

Surely the Minister realises it is time to have a reform in this regard. All appointments now are political appointments based on political patronage. Certainly the best qualified people are not getting the positions. The selection is being made at present from less than 40 per cent of the practising senior counsel, 95 per cent of whom are Fianna Fáil people.

The situation is as it has been for 50 years and as it was during the periods of government other than of Fianna Fáil Governments.

Accepting the fact that it has been the practice for 50 years does the Minister not think it would be desirable now to change it? Political considerations in appointments are bad enough at other levels but in the judiciary it is unfortunate and without reflecting on the decisions made by judges, which have been notably independent of political considerations, the system of appointment does give rise to public concern and is something that we should all agree now to change in our mutual interests and in the interests of the country.

I do not think it is fair to infer that every appointment made by a Fianna Fáil Government is of a Fianna Fáil supporter.

I do not wish to infer that.

I have said before, and I stand over it, that in the last ten years all but one have been Fianna Fáil supporters.

Does the Minister not agree that it was decided at a very early stage by a Cumann na nGaedheal Government, and rightly so, that professional appointments of this kind should be made by an independent body, the LAC under the Taoiseach's Department or the Civil Service Commissioners, in order to ensure that not only would justice be done but that it would be seen to be done, and that it is particularly necessary in this kind of case?

I think they must not have put that into practice because the existing position is as I have stated.

There is nothing to stop the Minister doing it.

I am calling Question No. 115.