Independent judiciary crucial to democracy
THE potential retirement, this year, of High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly will come as a blow to his colleagues – and to the public and State he has served with distinction. Born in 1950, the tough-talking judge – who has served the minimum 15 years before he can draw a full pension – has almost six years left before he reaches full retirement age.
Only Judge Kelly, whose move could precipitate a raft of departures of senior judges before full retirement age, can explain why he intends to depart before he reaches the age of 70. But as inaugural President of the Association of Judges of Ireland, a trade union of sorts formed in the wake of the controversial referendum on judges' pay, Judge Kelly and his association have been vocal about the threats posed to judicial independence by cuts to their pay and pensions.
The issue of pay and pensions does, however, go to the heart of judicial independence and to the quality of future appointees.