A controversial bill to change the way judges are appointed has been further delayed after Senators voted to defer a scheduled debate on the Judicial Appointments Bill. 

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell proposed to defer a debate scheduled for today until the new year describing it as an "extremely important bill, albeit that it is severely flawed". 

The bill, which has been a legislative priority of Minister for Transport Shane Ross, will establish a new body with a lay chairperson to select judges for appointment.

It has already had a controversial path through the Dáil with TDs tabling more than 100 amendments.

Mr Craughwell added that he was "totally opposed" to the bill, and it should be deferred until January to give it "proper time". 

The leader of the Seanad, Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer said the Seanad had spent more than 70 hours debating committee stage of the bill.  

Mr Craughwell rejected claims the bill was being filibustered, or deliberately delayed, saying that they were "scrutinising the legislation, as they were paid to do". 

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan yesterday told Senators that there was a "form of repetition" in the debate that was "deliberately inhibiting progress on an important bill". 

However, Senator Michael McDowell, a barrister and former Attorney General, told the Minister that he worried about the consequences of passing the bill for the quality of our judiciary.

He warned that the proposed bill "is not going to improve the judiciary at all, it's going to dis-improve it".

Minister Ross accused "Senate insiders from the Law Library" of delaying the Bill "in defence of their own vested interests".

"The filibuster is an untenable waste of parliamentary time which only benefits the legal elite," the Minister stated. 

Earlier this year, the government amended the bill so the proposed Commission would have 17 members, with a lay chair and a lay majority, and include the Chief Justice and the Presidents of the High Court, Circuit Court, District Court and Court of Appeal.