Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross has said he is confident the Judicial Appointments Bill will be passed by the Dáil. 

This is despite the bill being criticised by the Attorney General as a "dog's dinner" and a call by Fianna Fáil to scrap the bill.  

Mr Ross said the amended bill still contained the two key provisions that would stop political parties nominating their friends as judges.

These are a lay chair and a lay majority on the Judicial Appointments Commission.

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Yesterday, Attorney General Seamus Woulfe said some amendments to the bill were "contradictory", and "unconstitutional". 

He referred specifically to an amendment to remove the Attorney General from the Judicial Appointments Commission. 

Mr Ross said that while the Attorney General's comments on the bill were unusual, they were directed at Fianna Fáil who he said were responsible for most of the amendments. 

Fianna Fáil earlier called for the current bill to be scrapped and a new one redrawn. 

Party leader Micheál Martin said on Twitter that it is "difficult to see how Government can allow Judicial Appointments Bill to proceed if Attorney General believes it to be unconstitutional".

The Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan described the bill as deeply flawed.

In a statement, he also agreed with AG Seamus Woulfe's description of it as a "dog's dinner" and added "the chef was Minister Ross".

Seamus Woulfe
Attorney General Seamus  Woulfe said some of the amendments are 'inconsistent'

"The Attorney General is correct in describing the Government's Bill as a complete dog's dinner. The reason it is a dog's dinner is because the chef is Shane Ross," Mr O'Callaghan said.

He warned that a bill that was considered unconstitutional could not be passed by the Dáil. 

Independent TD Clare Daly, a member of the Justice Committee, said the Attorney General's comments were "shockingly ill-informed".  

Ms Daly said many days had been spent considering over 100 amendments. 

She said the Law Society and the Civil Liberties groups had previously recommended that the Attorney General not sit on the Judicial Appointments Commissions because he or she already has an advisory role when nominations are brought to Cabinet.

In a statement last night, a government spokesman said the Government is fully committed to the bill.

The statement was issued following yesterday's comments by Mr Woulfe, where he described some of the amendments to the bill as "contradictory", "inconsistent" and "unconstitutional".  

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke yesterday evening to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Transport Shane Ross, who proposed the bill, and also to the Attorney General.  

Afterwards, the Government statement said the bill will be brought back into the Dáil for 'report stage' after the Easter recess, and that it is an important piece of reform and modernisation.

Addressing the Association of European Journalists in Dublin, Mr Woulfe noted that the Oireachtas Committee had voted by 5-3 to "abolish" the Attorney General from the judicial appointments process.

He said this was widely viewed in the legal system as an "absolutely crazy thing to do", noting that the Attorney General is "hopefully a good link person" between the Bar Library, and knows the people, the candidates and the judges.

Mr Woulfe said that the whole "myriad" of amendments made by the committee now make the bill a complete "dog's dinner" at the moment because a number of the amendments were contradictory, inconsistent and unconstitutional.

He said this would make it a challenge to get the bill to the report stage very soon.

However, Mr Woulfe said he was sure that under "new politics", a deal would be done between various Government ministers and opposition parties, and he would await with interest over the next few days how that will pan out.

Sinn Féin said it had submitted amendments to the bill to ensure that prison sentences are proportionate to the crime.

The amendments were drafted by the party's justice spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.

He said it is important that the public have confidence in the courts, but currently there are wide disparities in a number of areas, including sexual offences, which have drawn comment.

The Green Party leader has also -called for the scrapping of the bill.

Eamon Ryan said he supported criticism of the proposed legislation articulated by Mr Woulfe.

Speaking at the Green Party national conference in Dun Laoghaire, Mr Ryan said "the Attorney General is absolutely right this legislation should be stopped".

"One of the strengths of our system is we have an independent judiciary, we've appointed really good people over the years, we do not need to put in what is a political approach, just to give a kick to the judges which is what would happen if we pass this bill.

"The Attorney General should be listened to, not just by Fine Gael but also by Fianna Fáil," he said.