Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has broken his silence on the Attorney General controversy by insisting “correct procedures were followed”, writes Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner Political Editor.
Mr Varadkar was speaking on Friday in a bid to try and contain the mounting controversy which has seen the Government criticised strongly by the Opposition.
Mr Varadkar said the Government followed proper procedures.
The Taoiseach said Ms Whelan was highly qualified to serve as a judge in the court.
“The issue which is attracting comment however is solely a matter of procedure. I am satisfied that the correct procedures were followed,” Mr Varadkar said.
“Under Article 13.2 of the Constitution, the Government and only the Government can appoint judges. The Tánaiste recommended Maire Whelan to Cabinet as the stand-out person for the vacancy,” he said.
Mr Varadkar also insisted he would fully respect the confidence-and-supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Ms Whelan's appointment to the €180,000 a year post was earlier described by Fianna Fáil as “a cynical political decision” and an example of “stroke politics”.
The party’s spokesman on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Niall Collins, said the situation surrounding her appointment as a judge of the Court of Appeal “stinks to high heaven” and he called on Ms Whelan not to take up the appointment while so many questions remain unanswered.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister and de-facto leader of the Independent Alliance Shane Ross has called for a review of the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Ross has said he was not questioning Ms Whelan but the process of her appointment, despite not blocking it at Cabinet on Tuesday when the matter was discussed.
Mr Ross has called for clarity on the circumstances as to how the matter came before Cabinet and he would be asking the Taoiseach at their next meeting on Tuesday to do so.
Speaking on Friday, Mr Ross stressed there was no link with link between the reopening of Stepaside garda station and the appointment.
Mr Ross was the only Minister to question the process when it was discussed by Cabinet this week, but did not block it, despite his demands to reform the process of judicial appointments.