LIVE: Varadkar to review appointments system following Máire Whelan controversy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has vowed to change the system of judicial appointments in the wake of the controversial decision to make Máire Whelan an Appeals Court judge, writes Elaine Loughlin

Mr Varadkar has admitted in the Dáil, that the controversy wasn't the type of issue he had hoped to begin his leadership with and pledged that there would be no future scandals around judicial appointments.

Under questioning from both Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Mr Varadkar continued to defend the decision to appoint the former Attorney General to the Court of Appeal.

He said the Dáil would now press ahead with the Judicial Appointments Bill and would sit into July and over the summer to get that piece of legislation through.

"We can resolve this matter once and for all by putting through this important legislation," he told the Dáil during his first leader's questions as Taoiseach.

He added that Government would change the process so that any judge who wants to apply for a higher post will have to go through the Judicial Appointment Advisory Board (JAAB).

Currently judges who wish to apply for a promotion write directly to the Attorney General and do not go through the JAAB system.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the proposed changes were an acknowledgement that the appointment of Maire Whelan had not gone through a correct process.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said that the "absence of legislation wasn't the issue here" but instead claimed the Government had not complied with the current legislation.

Mr Varadkar said that Government has the authority to appoint judges adding: "this appointment was entirely lawful," he stressed.

Fianna Fáil's Michéal Martin called for business to be suspended this evening to allow for a special debate on the Whelan appointment.

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