Criticism of Government by Mr Justice Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly has never been shy about making his views know, even if those views tend to put noses out of joint in Leinster House.

At a time when there has been a general decline in respect for judges among politicians and the public, the High Court judge remains highly regarded by most observers.

His appointment as President of the High Court in 2015 was widely welcomed in legal and political circles due to his reputation for fairness and fierce independence while on the bench.

However, the appointment also came as a surprise to some who noted that Kelly had a major row with the Fine Gael-Labour government in 2013 when he commented that judicial independence was being removed “brick by brick” by the government.

At the time, the Coalition was targeting the pay and conditions of judges as part of its response to the economic crisis, and the judges were feeling aggrieved about a perceived lack of consultation.

It was not his first run-in with government. In 2000 he was involved in a very public spat with the then Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats government in relation to the care of a troubled teenage girl whose case had come before his court.

Mr Justice Kelly directed that if a suitable place of detention was not found for the girl, he would hold three government ministers in contempt.

Just last week he said legislators should witness the “procession of misery” in the courts resulting from their continuing failure over years to enact laws necessary to address the lifetime care needs of the catastrophically injured.

Despite all of this, his name has been frequently mentioned in recent months as a possible replacement for Chief Justice Susan Denham who is retiring in September. Whether his latest comments will damage his chances remains to be seen.

2 Responses to Criticism of Government by Mr Justice Peter Kelly

  1. John Brennan June 27, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    I believe that if this Government didn’t have to rely on the votes of Independents this legislation on the appointment of judges would never see the light of day.
    We also have the clearly political decision to reopen Stepaside Garda station. Nothing has changed to justify reversal of the decision to close except that the Government is depending on a local T.D.s vote.
    What has the supposedly independent Garda Inspectorate and Policing Authority to say about this decision? Political interference in An Garda Siochana is at the root of a lot of its problems. It looks like nothing will change except the setting up of a few more quangos

  2. patrick joseph mc June 28, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    In relation to the words ; procession of misery; this man has seen more than his share of same over the decades along some District Court Judges . While I never had personal contact with this man I know he had his work schedule disrupted several times with the Gardai bringing vulnerable people before him .No one could ever doubt his commitment to the plight of the less fortunate in society

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