Cabinet ‘must revoke Whelan appointment’, demand opposition parties

Opposition parties have demanded that the Government revoke Máire Whelan’s appointment to the Court of Appeal and begin the process again.

Fianna Fáil claimed the appointment of the former attorney general to the appeals court is a breach of the confidence-and-supply agreement with Fine Gael, which could threaten the Government.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan described it as a “significant political issue” and said if answers to the many questions raised around the appointment cannot be found, “then the nomination must be revoked”.

Labour, Sinn Féin, and other opposition parties joined Fianna Fáil in calling for the process to restart.

Mr O’Callaghan said the appointment had “cast a shadow” over the process of appointing judges.

“There is a provision within the confidence-and-supply agreement which said there should be no surprises. This is clearly a surprise that was sprung not just on Fianna Fáil but on the whole political system last Tuesday at a time when they thought they could sneak it through,” he said.

“It is my view that it would be a breach of agreement if this stands without the satisfactory explanations and assurances.”

While Labour leader Brendan Howlin said Ms Whelan is a woman of “immense ability” who would undoubtedly “sail through any objective process”, he raised concern that “no objective test” appeared to have been been applied in this case.

Mr Howlin said: “The way this has been done is absolutely wrong.

“Anyone who is qualified for a role such as this should have the opportunity to apply for it, and for that application to be handled in an objective and transparent manner.

“For all his preaching about judicial appointments, it seems as though Shane Ross sat on his hands because Stepaside Garda Station will now reopen.”

Mr Howlin said his party believes it would be in everyone’s best interests, including Ms Whelan’s, if the process was restarted to allow Ms Whelan and others to submit an application for this role through the normal channels.

Sinn Féin claimed the appointment was “stroke politics”.

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the appointment “completely ignored proper procedures”.

“It is widely seen as the latest episode in stroke politics, of nod and wink politics, that is the last thing we need on the watch of a new Taoiseach,” she said.

The Green Party and the Social Democrats also demanded that the process be reviewed and restarted.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “The appointment must be made in a fair, open and transparent manner. The process by which Máire Whelan was appointed was none of these things, and is flawed in a number of ways.”

Michael Clifford: 17


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