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Monday 27 February 2017

Newest judges to avoid extra cut in wages

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE two newest High Court judges have avoided an extra pay cut of almost €20,000 a year because they were nominated two weeks before the referendum on judicial pay.

All judges will have their pay reduced after the electorate overwhelmingly backed a referendum to give the Government the power to cut their pay.

The referendum to cut judges' pay was passed by four to one, with 1,393,877 voting in favour of the 29th Amendment to the Constitution and 354,134 against.

But even after the cut, the pay of existing judges will still be ahead of that given to any newly appointed judges.

The pay of existing High Court judges will be reduced from €243,080 to €186,973. But new High Court judges will have their pay set at €168,481.

This means senior counsel Kevin Cross and Circuit Court Judge Michael White -- who were nominated to the High Court on October 11 -- will earn €186,973 a year, €18,497 more than the next batch of High Court judges.

Earlier this month, the Irish Independent revealed that Mr White has political and personal links to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Cross is a Fine Gael supporter, and a son-in-law of a former party minister.

Colleague

Mr White is a former Workers Party colleague of the Labour leader but he also represented Mr Gilmore as a solicitor in a dispute with the TD's neighbours over a plot of land where he built his house.

Meanwhile, Mr Cross made a political donation of €1,200 to European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton in the run-up to February's general election.

The constituencies of Mayo and Wexford had the highest 'Yes' vote at 82pc and 81.8pc respectively, but almost 38,000 spoiled their votes in the judges' pay poll.

Following the introduction of the public-sector pension levy by the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, a second Financial Emergency Measures Act was introduced in the same year, which reduced the salaries of public servants.

Judges were exempted from both measures because of the former ban on reducing judges' pay.

Irish Independent

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