Update on the Maire Whelan controversy in Ireland

The controversial appointment of former Attorney General Maire Whelan to Ireland’s Court of Appeal last week continues to draw headlines. Minority parties in the government have alleged several improprieties with the appointment, including that Whelan never formally applied for the post through the Judicial Appointment Advisory Board, and that she remained in the Cabinet meeting while her appointment was being debated.

The country’s new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has insisted that no laws were broken, and that Whelan is unquestionably qualified for the post.  Even the opposition appears to (grudgingly) admit both of these facts.  But, the opposition parties argue, failure to adhere to standard appointment practices violates the spirit–if not the letter–of the government’s confidence and supply agreement.

Whelan was formally appointed to the court yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Irish Times editorializes that

Nobody comes out of this well. Not Fine Gael, not Fianna Fáil, not the Independent ministers. A Fine Gael-led Government uses the final Cabinet meeting before a change of taoiseach to push through the nomination of its attorney general as a senior judge. The Independents agree to the selection then protest against their own decision two days later. And Fianna Fáil whips itself into a state of indignation on the basis that it doesn’t like the system of judicial appointments the party itself designed and used in the same way in office.


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