There have been angry scenes in the Dáil over comments made by the Fianna Fáil Leader in relation to the appointment of former attorney general Maire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

Micheál Martin described it "an insider appointment that stinks to high heaven" and to "add insult to injury" the Taoiseach decided in haste to instruct the President to appoint Ms Whelan.

Cabinet to review procedures after Whelan controversy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar denied any such instruction and said Ms Whelan is qualified for the role she now holds.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, he also said there were other cases that bear similarities such as Frank Clarke who was appointed to the High Court without going through Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

Mr Varadkar said Adrian Hardiman and Donal O'Donnell were appointed barristers directly to the Supreme Court but they did not have the experience of being attorney generals but were appointed directly to a higher court than the court of appeal. 

The Taoiseach also said John Murray was appointed to the European Court of Justice, moving from Attorney General, to a higher position in the European Court of Justice. 

He said he did not criticise those appointments, but they had one thing in common - that the Fianna Fáil leader was sitting at Cabinet all those appointments were made. 

There were angry scenes when Deputy Martin said Ms Whelan was no Frank Clarke or Adrian Hardiman. 

"You strain credibility by putting her in the same league as the individual you have named", he said.

Fine Gael Minister Regina Doherty described his comments as "outrageous", but Mr Martin said suitability to office was important and he was not going to take "a cosy insider consensus from those who want to ordain it as otherwise".  

The Taoiseach admitted that the controversy "is not the issue I would like to have dominated my first week."

He also said the new Judicial Appointments Bill would be brought to the Dáil next week. 

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the controversy overshadowed the Taoiseach's appointment of his new super junior ministers and there was no new politics on show.

He also criticised Fianna Fail for their conduct during the judicial controversy saying that they had "marched to the top of the hill, their brass necks glistening in the sun" but then simply rolled over.

The Dáil Business Committee is to meet at 4pm amid mounting calls for Dáil statements on Ms Whelan's appointment.

The Taoiseach said any debate will be be limited given the separation of powers between the judiciary and Government.

However, Fianna Fáil described Mr Varadkar's approach as arrogant.

The party wants statements on Ms Whelan's appointment to take place tonight during its Private Members' time.