The Chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland has said more resources should be devoted to maintaining high standards in the judiciary rather than spending money on an elaborate, expensive quango to decide which judges should be recommended for appointment.
In a speech at the annual Bar Council of Ireland Chairman's Dinner, Senior Counsel Paul McGarry said the judicial system in this State continues to be chronically underfunded.
He said Ireland had the lowest number of judges per person in the OECD and it remained problematic that those judges had not been adequately resourced through the provision of researchers, registrars or support staff.
In a strong criticism of the Government's proposed judicial appointments commission, Mr McGarry said it was "worrying" that "some people" seemed to think it was better to spend money on a system for the appointment of people to an elaborate, expensive quango simply to decide which judges should be recommended for appointment, instead of devoting more resources to the maintenance of high standards in the judiciary.
Mr McGarry said Ireland's judges continued to be held in very high regard and he said this was because their independence was unimpeachable.
Mr McGarry said the Legal Services Regulatory Authority had got up and running in the past year. He said elements of that legislation were welcome.
The new costs regime was long overdue, he said, adding that the Bar Council regretted any further delays in getting that up and running.
He said provisions on regulation and discipline were also broadly to be welcomed.
However Mr McGarry said there remained uncertainty about the cost of all this, saying provisions of the Act relating to business structures, multi-discliplinary practices and partnerships seemed to make no sense to the Bar Council in a market this size.
He said the Bar Council's arguments on these issues seemed to be getting some traction.
Mr McGarry told the dinner that in recent months the Bar Council had been engaged with Government agencies and law firms about the potential opportunities for legal services in the wake of Brexit.
He said the Council was glad to see that some of the ideas put forward would feature in attempts to attract global businesses to locate here.