Newest judge escapes 10pc wage cut on timing technicality
A LONG-STANDING Fianna Fail councillor nominated last night to become a judge will not be hit with the 10pc pay cut for new public sector workers.
It is worth an extra €14,700 a year.
Solicitor Paul Kelly, who has served as a councillor on Kildare County Council for 11 years, was last night nominated as a district court judge.
His appointment follows the resignation last July of colourful district court judge John Neilan.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced that all new appointments to the judiciary will be paid 10pc less than existing judges.
This will mean that all district court judges appointed post-Budget 2010 will earn a salary of €132,300, rather than the current salary of €147,000.
But Mr Kelly (53), who also served on Leixlip Town Council for more than 20 years and has operated his own legal practice in Leixlip since 1982, will earn the full €147,000.
This is because emergency laws to reduce the salaries of TDs and senators and new members of the judiciary will not be published until today and will not be passed until later this week at the earliest.
At its meeting yesterday, the Government decided to nominate Mr Kelly.
It is understood the Government only received a list of candidates for the vacancy in November from the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, a body that identifies and informs the Government about suitable barristers and solicitors who have applied to become judges.
Within hours of the Cabinet meeting, Mr Kelly had resigned from Fianna Fail with immediate effect.
"I have already resigned from Fianna Fail and the council, I did so earlier today (Wednesday)," Mr Kelly told the Irish Independent.
Various government departments with responsibility for judicial pay and appointments last night refused to comment on the controversy over the timing of Mr Kelly's appointment.
The Department of Justice said that the question of judges' pay and the timescale for the proposed new legislation was a matter for the Department of Finance.
The Department of Finance said that individual nominations were a matter for the Justice Minister.
The Department of the Taoiseach, which circulated details of Mr Kelly's nomination, said that its only involvement was to send a press release announcing the nomination.