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Generous array of judges' perks in Dail committee's firing line

The Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of the Oireachtas chaired by John McGuinness TD is planning to investigate the allowances and perks of the judiciary.

In the wake of the referendum on judicial pay, the cost of judges' pay was reduced by €3,570,074 this year.

The High Court cut in wages will be €1.764m, while the collective cost of the salaries of the top judges in the Supreme Court was reduced by more than €95,000.

However, documentation seen by the Sunday Independent reveals that our beaks are still entitled to a dazzling array of allowances and expenses.

The Pac is particularly exercised by the library 'annual expense allowance' where judges are entitled to claim for the provision of "a study and suitable library facilities'' for when they are required to work at home.

This non-taxable allowance comes in at €9,057.86 for the higher courts, €2,730 for Circuit Court judges and €1,365.01 for the District Court judges. The PAC is also keen to examine the various vouched allowances for court attire. These include:

• Wig €2,195 (once).

• Frock coat €745 – every two years.

• Frock coat without tails €575 – every two years.

• Gown €389.50 – every two years.

• Vest (waistcoat) €165 – every two years.

Wigs and vests are confined to judges of the Supreme High and Circuit Courts and the president of the District Court.

The Pac will also be inquiring into claims that new rules in relation to judicial attire in the Supreme Court could reduce the current €3,000 cost of a judge's attire by 65 per cent.

The Pac is also likely to explore top judicial mileage rates of up to 70.89 cent per kilometre, the right of judges to claim mileage allowances for travelling from work to home, and night allowance rates of €121.43 for judges working away from home.

Other allowances include a sitting-room allowance for Circuit Court judges to allow them "work in their accommodation after court'' and mileage allowances of up to €1,400 per fortnight for travelling judges.

Sunday Independent