JUSTICE Equality and Defence Minister Alan Shatter today insisted that the upcoming constitutional amendment on judges' pay was about "fairness" - adding that if it was carried it would save the economy €5.5m per year.
Mr Shatter said that bringing in this new amendment would ensure that in time when the country has been hit by an economic tsunami that the judiciary weren't perceived as being excluded in assisting the state.
It also would show that judges were not immune to reductions which affected everyone else in our society. He said that as it stands in the present system, the judges were excluded from assisting the state in reducing expenditure.
The Minister made it clear that the amendment would not hit at the independence of the judiciary. "It is crucial that the judiciary is independent and cannot be targeted by a government," he emphasised.
This amendment would continue to underline those principles, he added.
The Government’s main objective in bringing forward this proposed amendment to the Constitution was to put before the people an option which would allow the pay of judges to be reduced on the basis of certain conditions and in very exceptional circumstances.
Barrister Tomas Clancy said it was very understandable at this time that the people would want to give someone a kicking.
"They are feeling very abused at what has been going on and haven't been able to do that in relation to the banker," he said.
He stressed that judges should be independent of government. "Kings should not rule over judges... they should not have to look over their shoulders to see what the king wants them to do," he asserted.
Mr Clancy pointed out that judges pay their taxes and levies and they were amenable to that like the rest of the people.
"What's happened here is a bad decision by the previous government and questionable advice from legal authorities. You can't have the executive, ie the Taoiseach, reducing the pay of judges, because if you control somebody's sustenance, you control their mind," he claimed.