557. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the delay in implementing all sections of the Judicial Council Act 2019; when she will sign commencement orders in relation to sections 3, 42, 50-51, 53-64, 67-84, 86 and 88 of the Act and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37453/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will be aware, the Judicial Council was established pursuant to the Judicial Council Act 2019. Section 6 of the Judicial Council Act 2019, provides that “The Council shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be independent in the performance of its functions.”
The six main pillars of the Council’s remit are to promote:
- Excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions,
- High standards of conduct among judges,
- The effective and efficient use of resources made available to judges for the purposes of the exercise of their functions,
- Continuing education of judges,
- Respect for the independence of the judiciary, and
- Public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.
The Judicial Council Committees have been established, with lay members of those committees recruited, where required.
At the first meeting of the Judicial Council on 7 February 2020, dates were specified for the establishment of the various committees of the Council. The Judicial Conduct Committee was formally established with effect from 30 June 2020.
It was required under the Act to submit to the Judicial Council Board draft guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics, within 12 months of its establishment. I understand that the Committee submitted those draft guidelines to the Board on 28 June 2021, within the statutory timeframe.
The Act further states that the Council must then adopt those guidelines within a further 12 month period from that date. Once the guidelines are in place, I will then make orders bringing into operation those relevant provisions of the Act which have not yet been commenced.