173. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects the Judicial Council Bill 2017 will go to committee stage in Seanad Éireann; when he expects it will be introduced in Dáil Éireann; when he expects the Bill to be passed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44456/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy notes, the Judicial Council Bill is currently awaiting Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann, having completed Second Stage on 22 November 2017.  The Bill provides for the establishment of a Judicial Council, the function of which will be to promote and maintain excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions.   It will also provide a formal mechanism for the investigation of complaints about judges.
The Bill is a legislative priority for the Government and my intention is to make significant progress towards its enactment by the end of this year.   My Department is currently developing a package of amendments in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General.   Those amendments, which are at varying stages of development, include provisions in relation to sentencing guidelines, a Register of Interests for judges and associated matters in relation to the hearing of complaint proceedings in public.  
 This Bill has been developed in close collaboration with the judiciary and my Department is also maintaining contact with the judiciary in relation to the proposed amendments.