The judiciary is ‘outdated and needs diversity’

VIRTUALLY nothing has been done to modernise the judiciary and open up the legal profession to people from different backgrounds, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said yesterday.

Branding it outdated, the ICCL said appointments to the bench must begin to reflect Ireland’s increasingly diverse society.

The rights watchdog warned greater access to the legal profession should be provided for ethnic minorities and those on low incomes to ensure future judicial appointments are more inclusive.

A seminar discussing the issue will take place tomorrow night and will include expert speakers on the profession from Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic.

ICCL director Mark Kelly said: “Our concern is if we don’t start talk about how in the future our judiciary might become more diverse, there is a risk it won’t become more diverse, so we’d be going right back to look at the entry stages to the profession itself or even beyond that and entry to law schools in Ireland.

“Little work has been done to make entry to law school... a more inclusive process, and that’s even more true when you look at the profession itself.

“In the vast majority of cases to go to the bar you would need to be someone who had access to means and support and money...

“The judiciary we have is a reflection of legal education and practice from 40 years ago and more, and now we need to be looking to the future.”

The seminar is aimed at members of the judiciary, practitioners, politicians, policy makers, academics and non-governmental organisations.

It will be chaired by Justice Bryan McMahon, High Court judge and adjunct professor to the faculty of law in UCC.

The keynote speaker will be Usha Prahsar CBE, chair of Britain’s Judicial Appointments Commission.

Other speakers include Professor Kate Malleson, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London and Dermot Feenan, School of Law, University of Ulster.

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