Five judges got over €30,000 each in expenses and mileage last year
FIVE judges got paid over €30,000 each in expenses last year as it emerged members of the judiciary are entitled to up to 36 days' holidays.
Circuit and District Court judges claimed €500,000 worth of mileage and expenses last year for travelling to the areas where they sit in judgment.
Members of the judiciary are resisting reductions in their pay and changes to their pension entitlements.
But they benefit from a substantial array of expenses, ranging from allowances for wigs of €2,195 and for frock coats of €745.
Last night, Fine Gael TD Derek Keating called for party colleague and Justice Minister Alan Shatter to "get rid of the wigs, gowns and tipstaff from a bygone day".
"Simply put, we cannot afford the Panto lifestyle of our senior judges," he said.
Circuit Court judges are paid €177,554 and the salary for District Court judges is €147,961.
But details obtained by Mr Keating show District Court judges are entitled to 12 days annual leave plus the entire month of August, when courts close, which is regarded as 20 working days' leave.
The data also shows that judges not assigned to a specific court are entitled to 36 days' annual leave.
Mr Shatter explained that court districts and circuits had more than one court venue and judges were required to travel between venues.
"There are 17 District Court judges and 13 Circuit Court judges assigned to districts or circuits, the borders of which are more than 20km from their home," the minister said in response to questions from his fellow Fine Gael member.
The 17 District Court judges chalked up €250,000 worth of home travel and subsistence last year, while the 13 Circuit Court judges claimed almost €260,000.
Five judges were paid more than €30,000 each, with the highest claimant getting €37,000.
Mr Shatter also said judges received an annual expense allowance for a study and library facilities "when required to work from home".
"The annual expense allowance is paid from central funds directly through judges' remuneration," he said.
The rates for the study and library allowance is €2,730 for a Circuit Court judge and €1,365 for a District Court judge.
Mr Keating called on Mr Shatter to reform the system.
"We need the minister to direct the Chief Justice to cut these overheads with the purpose of not only saving money but also becoming a Republic in the true sense of the Constitution, that is of the people for the people," he said.