The Maximum Number of Judges Order (Northern Ireland) 2020

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:00 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Paul Givan Paul Givan DUP 6:00 pm, 14th December 2020

Thank you, Minister, for giving way. I had not planned to comment more widely on judicial appointments, given the limited scope of what we were doing, but Mr Allister has raised an issue.

The Committee wishes to have the Lord Chief Justice come before it, as he has in the past, in his role as chairman of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission. The Minister may recall that, back in 2013, Judge Desmond Marrinan came before the Committee and made very serious allegations about his failure to be appointed. He highlighted his view that it was not a fit-for-purpose body because it is chaired by the Lord Chief Justice, unlike in England and Wales, where it is chaired by a layperson. Has the Minister looked into the way in which the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission is constructed and at the postholders of that organisation? That is something that I am keen to pursue, albeit I have not brought it before the Committee yet. It may be an area where Mr Allister's complaint could be looked at in more detail.