Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that serious and credible risks pertaining to the independence and objectivity of some senior Judges now exists.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after reviewing Papers outlining several controversial reasons why the presiding judge overseeing the O’Donnell legal action must recuse himself from the case:
“In specific terms, the reasons being put forward by Mr O’Donnell for the recusal are verifiable and profoundly disturbing.
They speak to a very real perception around various conflicts of interest in this case; conflicts I might add which reflect greater concerns held by many of those who engage with the Courts in relation to repossession orders and judgements favourable to the larger banks and financial institutions.
There is a very real acknowledgement among members of the legal profession that all is not as it should be in terms of structures or processes that guarantee the transparent independence of some judges.
This situation is compounded by the fact that members of the public who are being forced to act as lay litigants, with little or no legal understanding, have no effective recourse when it comes to seeking sanctions in the face of what they perceive as possible judicial misconduct. This is happening in Clonmel today where 55 families are facing the trauma of repossession.
We have been waiting nearly sixteen years for the Judicial Council Bill which would facilitate such sanctions to come into effect.
We have also totally ignored the implications of a Competition Authority Report that is now a decade old and which spoke about the need to cure the central malaise of the legal system, namely costs as a substantial deterrent to those contemplating the assertion or defence of their legal rights.
This is a matter that is silently destabilising the guarantee of full judicial independence that every citizen, rich or poor is entitled to under our constitution, under Irish case law and under Council of Europe recommendations and of which the furore at Gorse Hill merely pointed to as a symptom of the deeper disease,” concluded Deputy McGrath.
Mattie McGrath TD
Tipperary South/West Waterford