344. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to introduce legislation to establish a register of interests for court judges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40711/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government Legislative Programme, which was published on 22 September 2015, includes the Judicial Council Bill among those Bills which are expected to be published in the period from the commencement of the current Dáil session to the start of the next session and my Department is working closely with the Office of the Attorney General to bring the Bill to a timely conclusion.
In its current form the Bill provides for the establishment of a Judicial Council and Board that will promote excellence and high standards of conduct by judges. It will also provide a means of investigating allegations of judicial misconduct and, in this context, a Judicial Conduct Committee, which will have lay representation, will be established. Finally, it will facilitate the ongoing support and education of judges through a Judicial Studies Committee and through the establishment of Judicial Support Committees. While the Bill does not provide explicitly for the creation of a register of interests, it does contemplate that one of the functions of the Judicial Council would be the adoption of guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics.