The ongoing controversy surrounding Mairé Whelan’s contentious appointment to the Court of Appeal has sparked mixed reaction from local TDs.
Speculation over the prospect of a general election has intensified over the past seven days with a number of fiery exchanges taking place between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin in the Dáil.
On a local level, Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy and Fine Gael’s Peter Burke entered the fray appearing to attack each other’s respective party’s handling of the saga.
“The whole thing from beginning to end just doesn’t stack up,” said Mr Troy when contacted by the Leader.
Deputy Troy said the saga bore similar hallmarks to the furore which came in the wake of former Attorney General Harry Whelahan’s appointment to the High Court in 1994.
That fallout had dire consequences for the Albert Reynolds’ led government with Fianna Fáil’s partners in government, the Labour Party ultimately withdrawing their support and forcing a general election.
“You wouldn’t do it if you were employing someone in a sweetshop,” Deputy Troy stated.
“That’s how badly this has been handled.”
Mr Troy said the row had “without question damaged the relationship” between both parties and “hastened the likelihood” of an early election.
Meanwhile Fine Gael’s Peter Burke admitted Ms Whelan’s appointment to the Court of Appeal could have been handled better, but rubbished Mr Troy’s assertions concerning an early election.
“I would be very surprised if that were the case,” Deputy Burke said.
“I know the Taoiseach is prioritising bringing the Judicial Appointments Bill before the Dail before the summer recess.”
And while Deputy Burke said the dispute was “not ideal”, he criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin for calling into question the professional merits of Ms Whelan.
“He (Mr Martin) decided to make things personal against someone who is a member of the judiciary and against someone who has proven herself with her handling of very difficult pieces of legislation as well as through her many decades of experience as a barrister,” he said.