The above indo article refers.
The background is as follows, for those unfamiliar.
When filling a job as Judge of the European Court of Justice, it is normal, and required, for the person appointed by Government to retire from their Irish judicial job, if not appointed directly from the Bar, in order that the European authorities are satisfied that the person so appointed is not acting solely in their own narrow national interest. It's all a bit daft given one presumes when serving in their national position they do so impartially. Howandever, that is the case.
Mr. Justice O'Higgins is of the blueshirt O'Higgins, "Kevin O'Higgins", nephew I think, in fact, and brother to Tom O'Higgins, who, in a rare show of conscience, resigned from his audit position of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission over the O'Donaghue expenses scandal, and other issues, several years ago. O'Higgins was appointed by a FF Government, to be clear.
O'Higgins was, to anyone with the slightest interest, a "straight bat", very good and very hard working. Did a lot of "crime" on the bench and was a member of the Criminal Law Codification Advisory Committee, amongst other things.
He was appointed by the last Government to the ECJ and has, according to all sources, aquitted himself very well. His term is due to expire later this year and, as is normal, if they so wish, has expressed an interest in doing a second, and final, term.
Now, barring some exceptional event, this would be granted, as of course. O'Higgins has four years to manditory retirement and this would take him to that.
However, Shatter, in what only can be called another example of his lack of any tact whatsoever, had one of his officials tell O'Higgins that he was not being reappointed with absolutely no reason given.
What is more, and this is the very strange thing, Shatter has further said that he will not be reappointed to the bench either.
That is MOST strange.
The convention has always been that a returning judge would be reappointed to his previous position, or if he was at the bar before appointment, that he would, providing he proved himself in Europe, be appointed to the bench.
The rational was simple. It was and is, that if you have to give up a lucrative practice or your judicial career to take up a European appointment, you would hope that you would have a modicum of security on your return. This ensured that applicants for the positions were of a good standard, ie had a good practice or were already at least a High Court Judge. You really dont want to be sending some piss pot barrister out to Europe to make us look like plonkers.
However, Shatter has now unilaterally upturned this and told O'Higgins, who would have four years left to serve in normal circumstances, to take his hook and sling it.
I am not going to suggest reasons why Shatter would do this. He is, I suspect, just being Shatter.
There is, however, a lot of ill feeling about it in the Bar and on the Bench. Perhaps, therefore, Shatter was sucessful.
EDIT: Can't seem to embed the Indo article. You can google it.