Monday 20 November 2017

Judicial expenses reached €1.75 million last year

Judge Kevin Kilraine: highest expenses claim at €65,392
Judge Kevin Kilraine: highest expenses claim at €65,392
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Judges claimed almost €1.75m last year for travelling to and from court and covering the cost of accommodation and other expenses.

Figures released by the Courts Service of Ireland show the average claimed by each of the country's 154 judges in 2014 was €11,360.

However, most district and circuit court judges made above average claims as there is more travel attached to their duties.

The figures show the average claimed by district judges was €16,982, while the average for circuit justices was €12,773.

In comparison, judges on the Supreme Court claimed just €1,423 on average, while average claims for High Court justices were €2,722.

The sums published also include the cost of incidental expenses, such as the purchase of wigs and gowns. The overall amount last year was almost the same as in 2013 when €1.74m was claimed by the judiciary.

The highest claiming judge in 2014 was Kevin Kilraine, who presides over district courts in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. He claimed €65,392, made up of travel expenses of €32,104 and accommodation expenses of €33,288. He was followed by another district judge, Gerard Furlong, who has presided in different districts around the country. Judge Furlong claimed €45,546. This was made up of €23,744 in travelling expenses and €21,801 on accommodation. Also in the top 10 claimants were district judges John O'Neill (€41,696), Seamus Hughes (€40,499), James Faughnan (€30,833), Kevin Staunton (€30,101) and Alan Mitchell (€29,908), and circuit court judges Donagh McDonagh (€32,256) and Desmond Hogan (€30,061).

Full details of judicial expenses were published for the first time last October after the Information Commissioner ruled the identities of individual judges and the amounts they claimed could be disclosed.

At that time expenses from 2008 to 2013 were published.

The Courts Service had objected to the identification of judges, while the Garda Commissioner voiced concern the information could impact on their personal security.

However, after inviting submissions from the judiciary, Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall concluded there was no justification for withholding the identities of the judges.

He found that the public interest in ensuring accountability outweighed any right to privacy the judges might have in relation to expenses.

Following the ruling, the Courts Service committed to publishing expenses at regular intervals.

It said the travel and accommodation costs were a direct reflection of the work, numbers of sittings and the locations judges are required to attend.

Irish Independent

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