The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has urged the Irish authorities to step up their efforts to ensure judicial independence in respect of appointments and promotion of judges.
In a report published today, GRECO notes that Ireland has only implemented fully three of the eleven recommendations on prevention of corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors contained in its 2014 Fourth Evaluation Round Report, and considers that its overall low level of compliance is globally unsatisfactory.
GRECO acknowledges that some progress has been made in that the Judicial Council Bill 2017 is now pending before Parliament and appears to be a positive step in the direction of establishing such a council.
On the other hand, GRECO notes with concern the suggested lay member majority of an appointments commission for the judiciary included in the Judicial Appointments Bill 2017. The Bill is subject to much debate and it appears questionable whether it is in line with European standards aimed at securing judicial independence in respect of appointments and promotion of judges. GRECO urges the authorities to continue reform efforts in close co-operation with the judiciary.
With respect to members of parliament, GRECO welcomes the Public Sector Standards Bill 2015, which has the potential to provide for a common and uniform legal framework for public officials, including members of parliament. However, GRECO points out that the process of the 2015 Bill is slow and it has yet to be finalised and adopted by parliament.
GRECO asks the Irish authorities to report on the progress in implementing the pending recommendations before 30 June 2019.