Tuesday 20 March 2018

Judges to get a voice as they set up new association

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

JUDGES have formed a representative body ahead of government plans to set up an agency to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct. The judicial council will allow for all judges to be formally represented for the first time.

It comes at a time when some senior judges are angry at cuts in judicial pay and pensions as well as the threat to judicial independence posed by the failed Oireachtas inquiries referendum.

Chief Justice Susan Denham set up an interim judicial council to "support the third branch of government".

She announced details of the council following a meeting of Supreme and High Court judges at their annual conference in Dublin Castle yesterday.

The announcement came as the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, published legislation following the referendum on judges' pay.

The new law, once passed, will allow the pay of serving judges to be reduced by up to 23pc and the pay of new entrants reduced by up to 31pc.

In her first major initiative since taking over the role from former Chief Justice John Murray, Mrs Justice Denham said that Ireland had not developed the institutions and systems to support the independence of the judiciary. Judicial councils, which represent judges and regulate their conduct and ethics, are established in most European countries.

"This first step today in establishing an interim judicial council will initiate a process which will provide a modern infrastructure for the judiciary to work within, learn within, set standards within, have a voice from, and within which to address issues of ethics and standards," she said.

The interim body has been welcomed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Irish Independent

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