Judicial Diversity in Ireland

Dr. Laura Cahillane

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Judicial diversity is not a subject which is much discussed in Ireland. Despite the fact that our judiciary is still a relatively homogenous group with figures on female judges only recently improving, it seems neither the judges, nor the other two branches of government, see this as an issue which needs to be addressed. This is also in spite of the fact that our current process for appointing judges does not include any incentive or requirement to consider diversity and the recent trend which has seen the appointment of more women to the bench could just as easily be reversed by a future regime. Furthermore, while there has been some improvement in terms of gender balance, it seems there has been no consideration of diversity more generally in judicial appointments. In this context, this article examines whether diversity is an issue which needs to be considered in relation to judicial appointments in Ireland. First, the current profile of the Irish judiciary is illustrated. Then, in order to determine if and why diversity is necessary, the various rationales which have been put forward in favour of judicial diversity are analysed. Finally, the argument in favour of examining this issue in further detail in Ireland is put forward.

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