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Supreme Court Decision On Judicial Appointments Welcomed.

The Supreme Court’s judgment that the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022 is constitutional has been welcomed. This decision of the Supreme Court means that the Bill will now be signed by President Michael D. Higgins and will become law.

The Bill will ensure that anyone who wishes to be considered for appointment to judicial office, including serving judges, will apply to the Commission and undergo the same application and interview processes. It will also ensure that the selection of nominees for judicial office will be through fair and open competition from the widest range of possible candidates.

The Bill will reform the system of judicial appointment in Ireland. It will establish a new, independent Judicial Appointments Commission to select and recommend persons for judicial office in Ireland and in the EU and international courts.

The Bill provides that recommendations of persons for judicial office shall be based on merit. The Bill also makes provision, in relation to the courts in the State, for the objectives of equal numbers of men and women, reflecting the diversity of the population of the State and proficiency in the Irish language.

The decision of the Supreme Court was pronounced in open court this morning in accordance with Article 26 of the Constitution. This ruling follows the decision by the President, after consultation with the Council of State, to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court to decide on the question as to whether specified provisions of the Bill are repugnant to the Constitution.

The procedure set out in Article 26 of the Constitution to test the constitutionality of the Bill is an important part of the constitutional architecture of the State. Following the decision of the Supreme Court, Article 34.3.3 of the Constitution precludes the possibility of any further legal challenge to the constitutionality of the legislation.

The system for judicial appointment in Ireland is a crucial mechanism to achieve the goal of judicial independence which is a central element of the constitutional framework of Ireland.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022 was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 4 October 2023 and it was subsequently presented to the President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. On 13th October 2023, after consultation with the Council of State, the President had decided to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court.

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