JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter will set the holidays and working hours for a new group of "specialist judges" appointed to deal with thousands of insolvency actions due to come before the courts.
The specialist judges will receive the same salaries as newly appointed Circuit Court judges, will be regarded as full judges and must be addressed in court as "judge".
But they will not be entitled to enjoy the same holidays as ordinary judges, who enjoy a lengthy "long vacation" during August and September.
Mr Shatter says he envisages that the new judges will be available from Monday and Friday each week throughout the calendar year rather than restricted to the current terms.
The new cadre of specialist judges – "underutilised" county registrars who will be added to the list of judges that make up the Circuit Court – will have to apply for the €140,623-a-year roles to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB).
It is expected there will be eight new judges appointed in all.
Barristers and solicitors will not be able to apply for the new positions for several years.
The civil servants will be made judges as part of plans to deal with any court delays arising from debt forgiveness disputes between debtors and lenders under the supervision of the new Insolvency Service of Ireland.
The move to appoint country registrars as judges with new working hours and conditions has alarmed the country's senior judges, who set up a representative body last year following the controversy over judicial pay and independence.
The judiciary, whose pay and pensions have already been cut following a contentious referendum, fear that their salaries and vacations will be targeted further as part of government plans to implement cuts of more than €1bn from the public sector pay bill by 2015.
The judiciary is one of three branches of government that also includes the executive and the legislature, and court management, law terms and vacations – the exclusive preserve of the judiciary – is a highly sensitive issue.
Earlier this week, the country's High Court judges met after the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, circulated a letter from Mr Shatter inviting the bench to make "adjustments" as part of the extended Croke Park talks.
In his letter to the judiciary, Mr Shatter acknowledged the positive co-operation to date of the judiciary and the significant role played by judges in creating efficiencies throughout the court system.
But he said he believed that the judiciary should not be excluded from the outcome of the current talks.