Friday 23 February 2018

Judges fear holidays next to be cut in Shatter plan

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

JUDGES fear their holidays could be the next target after dramatic pay cuts of up to €44,000 each were announced yesterday.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed the official salary of the Chief Justice will be cut by €44,000, Supreme Court salaries reduced by €38,000 and High Court judges will get a pay cut of €36,000.

The public will get the opportunity to vote on this when the judicial pay referendum is held alongside the presidential election on October 27.

But according to legal sources, judges fear Mr Shatter's next move will be to curtail their holidays. Mr Shatter has set up an expert group to examine ways of reducing delays in the courts system -- including the three-year backlog in hearing Supreme Court cases.

Supreme, Circuit and High Court judges get two weeks off at Easter, eight weeks in August and September and almost three weeks over Christmas. District Court judges get only nine days off at Christmas and six at Easter.

The Irish Independent asked Mr Shatter if he believed that shortening the two-month break would help tackle the backlog in the courts system. A spokeswoman said he did not wish to pre-empt the recommendations of the expert group, which he expects to have by the end of September.

Mr Shatter yesterday published draft legislation which shows clearly that judges will be treated the same as other senior public servants who have taken pay cuts. The legislation will also impose a further 10pc pay cut on all new judges hired after the referendum.

As well as the pay cuts, all 147 existing judges will be required by law to pay the pension levy.

Judges have previously escaped compulsory cuts due to the provisions of the Constitution that protect their salaries.

But the new Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, asked to retain her Supreme Court salary of €257,872 rather than her new entitlement of €295,916.

If the referendum is passed, her official salary will be cut to €227,168 when pay cuts and the pension levy are taken into account.

Irish Independent

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