Ireland’s first appointment of female High Court judges.
Ireland’s first appointment of female High Court judges. Denise McBride QC and Siobhan Keegan QC were sworn in by the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan making them the first-ever women to hold the senior judicial posts.
A significant progress following Sir Declan’s quote in 2012 of the importance of levering change on the representation of women within the justice sector.
The appointments follow increased scrutiny of gender equality in the judiciary across the UK. UK’s only female supreme court judge Lady Hale, now in her 70’s, is the only woman on the 12-strong supreme court bench in the UK has been a strong advocate of improving diversity with a call to establish a search committee to find more candidates in the UK.
Lord Thomas who is currently head of the judiciary in England and Wales commented that “We are on the road to delivery.” with significant progress being made towards a more diverse judiciary. However there has been caution announced by Lord Sumption, who claimed that any attempt to speed up the process of achieving gender equality in the senior judiciary could lead to “appalling consequences”. A spokesman for the supreme court said Lord Sumption believes that increasing diversity at all levels of the profession is important, and that the range of hidden barriers to improving diversity – particularly of the judiciary – present a very complex problem.
The Equality Commission of Northern Ireland has previously said that women are underrepresented in the highest offices of the judiciary and Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan himself has promoted a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring that the judiciary is as reflective as possible of the community, while at the same time emphasising that the merit principle should never be compromised.
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