I wish to raise with the Taoiseach the behaviour of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, in relation to a number of key issues. His remarks on the Judiciary have been unacceptable. He is utilising his position as a Minister to undermine and attack the judicial pillar in a politically populist way. In short, he does not have respect for the judicial pillar which is so central to our democracy. He has made very inaccurate comments about the Judiciary and the attitude of judges to the reform of the judicial sector. The Chief Justice had to come out publicly and make the point that the Judiciary had been seeking reform of the appointment of judges based on merit for quite some time, including by way of making a submission in 2014 and joining in a European declaration in 2012. The Minister, Deputy Ross, has been very cavalier, untruthful and disingenuous on the judges. It may play well, but it is not right for a Minister to use his ministerial platform to engage in such behaviour.
Added to above is the failure to fill up to 34 vacancies on State boards under his remit as Minister. These include the Road Safety Authority, Irish Rail, Dublin Bus, the Dublin Airport Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Sport Ireland, all of which are operating with depleted numbers simply because the Minister is refusing to appoint people. He has made various ridiculous comments to the effect that he cannot be expected to make decisions with so many names coming at him. I put it to the Taoiseach that there is a system in place on foot of the last Government's reforms, which is called the Public Appointments Service. It selects people to go forward for nomination by respective Ministers.
There are two vacancies in the Road Safety Authority, which is a very important authority. In the past decade we have made great progress in improving road safety, irrespective of who appointed who to boards. The authority needs more resources and so on and can make even further progress.
Ministers cannot go on solo runs on their own. The Minister has a responsibility under the collective Cabinet responsibility system to operate the rules as they currently apply, either in the appointment of judges or people to State boards. No Minister can set himself or herself up as a mini dictator and say no judges will be appointed unless he or she gets his or her way and that no one will be appointed to State boards within his or her remit unless he or she gets his or her way on the issue of reform. There are areas in which no one else has sought additional reform at this time.
Has the Taoiseach called in the Minister to inform him of his ministerial responsibilities? I am serious about this. The Minister needs to be spoken to because, in keeping within the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility, he has to operate the legal frameworks as they apply in the appointment of judges and the filling of vacant State board positions until they are changed. Will the Taoiseach speak to him about these issues? Does he think the Minister is right in his approach so far in the appointment of judges and his failure to fill vacancies on State boards?