Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the appointment of former attorney general Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal has not put his Government a step closer to a general election.

Mr Varadkar said he would not wash his hands of the nomination because he was at Cabinet when it was made.

Speaking in London, Mr Varadkar described the appointment as appropriate and lawful.

Earlier Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan also defended the appointment.

Ms Whelan was formally appointed this morning when President Michael D Higgins signed her warrant of appointment.

Mr Varadkar and new Attorney General Seamus Woulfe attended the ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said he believes there were a number of flaws in the way Ms Whelan was nominated to the Court of Appeal.

However, speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Flanagan said he was "satisfied that all procedures and processes had been dealt with fully, in accordance with the law".

The Fine Gael minister said: "I don't accept that there are questions outstanding".

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr O'Callaghan said the Government "circumnavigated the law" and the fact that Ms Whelan remained in the room when her nomination was discussed at a Cabinet meeting last week was a breach of fair procedures.

He said that he was not suggesting anything illegal or unconstitutional had occurred, but asked why Ms Whelan did not apply for the position through the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

Mr O'Callaghan said the decision of the Government to "ram this appointment" through today undermines the legitimate concerns expressed by independent ministers, including Denis Naughten.

He added that Fianna Fáil will not shy away from raising the issue in the Dáil tomorrow and will vigorously pursue the matter.

Mr O'Callaghan said Tánaiste and former minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald needed to explain why she did not bring the names of other eligible judges who had expressed interest in the position to Cabinet.

His party colleague Michael McGrath also said that the Government had damaged the goodwill that exists "to keep the confidence and supply agreement in place."

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr McGrath said the "rushing through" of the appointment has reneged on the confidence and supply agreement.

Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh has said that correct procedure was followed in relation to Ms Whelan's appointment and she will be "a massive addition".

Mr McHugh said that he is working closely with his independent colleagues in terms of future legislation for other judicial appointments, so, he said, they would look how changes could be made in the future, but as far Ms Whelan's appointment is concerned, the proper procedure was has followed and the Government is happy to proceed with it.

Yesterday, Independent Alliance minister Shane Ross said that he will bring his concerns over Ms Whelan’s appointment before Cabinet tomorrow.

He said the Independent Alliance was firm that the process for nominating and appointing judges needed to be changed.

Mr Ross said that he had no issue with Ms Whelan’s qualifications, but said the system needed to be reformed.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly this morning said the appointment of Ms Whelan will have serious consequences.

She described it as demoralising and warned it would lead to a lack of public confidence.

Ms Daly said it would not make any sense for Ms Whelan to be given the seal of office and then step down, as Fianna Fáil has called for her to do. 

She added that she believed people are getting sick of Fianna Fáil and independents who "huff and puff" but never blow the house down.