'Justice is being delayed by huge lack of judges'
Irish judges are dramatically overworked, causing long delays to cases, a High Court judge has said.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys said Ireland is "rock bottom of the European league" in terms of judicial representation and ranks alongside Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia.
There are currently 163 judges to cover a population of 4.8 million people.
"As the adage has it, justice delayed is justice denied. But a hearing within a reasonable time is only possible if there are enough judges, relative to the amount of litigation being undertaken, to all capacity in the system to deal with all cases and appeal promptly," Mr Justice Humphreys told the Parnell Summer School in Wicklow.
He said there is a "temptation" to blame judges and lawyers for delays in the system but that "any given judge or court can only do so much".
"There is a wider systemic issue as to the need for the Oireachtas to provide adequate staffing levels for the court system, both in terms of judicial posts and in terms of support staff," he added.
Council of Europe member states have an average of 210 professional judges per million.
"Ireland was in the unfortunate position of having only 30 judges per million, putting us rock bottom of the Council of Europe apart from the special case of the UK.
"Again to emphasise, that puts us not just at the bottom of the table but massively so by some multiples. The average number of professional judges in European countries is 700pc of the Irish figure per capita," the judge said.
Mr Humphreys urged the Government to increase the number of judges.