Shatter dodges quizzing on judges row
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter evaded questions yesterday about the ongoing controversy over judges' pay and pensions at a meeting with the Chief Justice, John Murray.
The pair met face to face at the launch of the Courts Service annual report, which showed that the body had reduced its costs by more than €30m in the past two years, despite a 40pc increase in business since the onset of the recession.
Mr Shatter, who praised the "outstanding record" of the independent judiciary, said it was a record that we should "jealously preserve and protect".
But the minister, who left the Courts Service building by a side exit to avoid reporters, ruled out changes to the commitment to hold a referendum on judges' pay.
He refused to answer if the Government, which will appoint a new Chief Justice within weeks, had plans to restore the damaged relationship between the executive and the judiciary.
Mr Shatter has been engaged in a stand-off with Ireland's 147 judges, who recently wrote a memo to the Government that criticised the wording of the proposed referendum but not the principle that judges' pay should be cut.
The memo was widely leaked to the press but Mr Shatter later criticised as "inappropriate" a decision by the Courts Service to post the memo in full on its website. The memo has since been removed.
Mr Murray did not address the ongoing controversy yesterday.
He said administration of justice was a key pillar in the structure of any democratic state.