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.